Hong Kong’s New National Security Law Gives Life Sentences For Treason And Insurrection

(NewsSpace.com) – China is known for having some of the strictest laws in the world, particularly when it comes to dissent among its citizens. Those who demonstrate or speak out are often sought out and punished by authorities. Now, Hong Kong, a special administrative region in the country, has passed legislation increasing those penalties.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong legislators passed the Safeguarding National Security Bill, which increases punishments for those who engage in dissent or insurrection. While the law is mandated by Article 23 of its constitution, it’s also said to be a necessity to fill loopholes created when China imposed its national security law in 2020. That law criminalized sedition, subversion, secession, terrorism, and working as a foreign agent against the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

This is the second time that the legislation has been introduced. It was first created in 2003, but shelved because of the uproar and mass protests it sparked. The law is slated to go into effect on March 23, after all 89 lawmakers voted to pass it.

The measure expands penalties on various crimes that fall into several categories, such as insurrection, treason, acts with seditious intention, theft of state secrets, sabotage, and espionage. Regina Ip, who served as Hong Kong’s city security manager in 2003, when the legislation was first drafted, is a staunch defender of the bill. She said that had Hong Kong passed a bill 21 years ago as mandated by Article 23, the PRC wouldn’t have had to swoop in and enact its own national security law. In fact, she said authorities “could have prosecuted” those who rioted and avoided Beijing’s involvement at all.

While many support the law, others feel that it does away with Hong Kong’s autonomy. An affiliate scholar at the US Asian Law Institute at New York University, Alvin Cheung, said it “much more closely tracks the mainland’s all-embracing concept of national security,” and that’s alarming.

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