China to set up new 'special branch' in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong's leader vowed on Friday to "fully cooperate" with Beijing over a national security law for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, after lawmakers introduced a draft proposal to the country's parliament.

She also said it would not replace Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution, which requires the local government to enact its own legislation on national security separate from Beijing.

The proposed bill, submitted on the opening day of China's national legislative session Friday, is aimed at forbidding secessionist and subversive activity, as well as foreign interference and terrorism.

Pro-democracy activists fear that China pushing through the law could mean "the end of Hong Kong" - that is, the effective end of its autonomy and these freedoms.

The "one country, two systems" principle, a balancing act between two fundamentally different forms of government and two entirely different views of the world, is a farce.

China's ruling Communist Party said it wants to ban "treason, secession, sedition and subversion". Hong Kong benefits from visa-free travel from the United States and lower tariffs than the rest of China.

As 2,897 representatives from across China gathered in the Great Hall of the People for the annual Chinese National People's Congress on Friday, the first point of order was not the seemingly all-consuming topic of the coronavirus pandemic.

The security legislation, which could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in Hong Kong, has sent chills through the business and diplomatic communities, spooked financial markets and escalated geopolitical tensions.

"If China is so stupid as to believe that they can do away with Hong Kong and they don't need an global financial center, then of course there's nothing which one could do to dissuade them to do otherwise", he said.

Why are people in Hong Kong afraid?

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HONG KONG-CHINA-POLITICS-LIFESTYLE
AFP via Getty Images

"We are angry, but will fight on", says Mo.

One protestor, Eddie Chu, was removed by security. It said Kwok - an opposition lawmaker who was participating in a filibuster effort in the city's elected legislature - may have committed misconduct and violated his oath of office, offenses that could cost him his seat.

Hong Kong got freedom from the United Kingdom in 1997, after nearly 150 years of being ruled by Britain. Conversely, for Hong Kong citizens, if they could prosper without direct Chinese rule, why not go all the way and become a Western-style democracy like Taiwan - culturally Chinese with a Western-style political economy?

"And so, I would expect that they're going to have serious capital flight problems", Hassett said.

The Chinese Communist Party yesterday made it clear that the planned law was aimed at quashing the democracy movement.

"They are taking away our soul, our rights and freedoms, from rule of law to free speech", she says.

Student activist and politician Joshua Wong, who emerged as a new leader of the student and youth protests in Hong Kong, tweeted that the move was an attempt by Beijing to "silence Hong Kongers' critical voices with force and fear".

A heavy crackdown will not tackle the grievances driving the protest movement, which over the previous year only escalated as the city's police force turned to increasingly aggressive tactics, the worldwide group said.

Protesters chanted "Liberate Hong Kong!"

"Whatever form it takes, it is important the national security law addresses concerns over possible curbs on freedoms and rights", it said.

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