Hong Kong Legislature unanimously passes National Security Bill


11:05 AM

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Hong Kong Legislature unanimously passes National Security Bill Blog Image

What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in news?
  • Political System of Hong Kong
  • Background - 2019 pro-democracy protests and a security law
  • What is Safeguarding National Security Bill?

Why in the news?

The Hong Kong legislature has passed a new national security law unanimously, granting the government more power to curb dissent. The passing of the ‘Safeguarding National Security Bill’ comes in the wake of a political crackdown sparked by the 2019 pro-democracy protests.

Political System of Hong Kong

  • Political system
    • Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China located on the Delta of eastern Pearl River in South China.
    • It has its own currency, political system and cultural identity but it belongs to China.
  • Background
    • The city was a colony of the United Kingdom, until the British handed it back over to China in 1997.
      • Qing dynasty leaders ceded Hong Kong Island to the British Crown in 1842 after China’s defeat in the First Opium War.
  • At the time of handover, the Chinese Communist leadership had agreed to a unique arrangement – “One Country, Two Systems”. 
  • This was agreed upon to maintain Hong Kong’s prosperity, and its legal system and culture.
  • One Country, Two Systems
    • Under this policy, Hong Kong maintains a de-facto constitution, known as the Hong Kong Basic Law. 
    • It guarantees freedoms that are unavailable to Chinese mainlanders, such as the right to protest, the right to a free press and freedom of speech.
    • But in recent years, Beijing has repeatedly reinterpreted the Basic Law and now it says it has "complete jurisdiction" over Hong Kong.

Background - 2019 Pro-Democracy Protests and a Security Law

  • 2019 pro-democracy protests
    • In 2019, a large number of people in Hong Kong wore white and marched through the streets in one of the largest protests since the Umbrella Revolution in 2014. 
    • They were protesting against a proposed law change that would allow suspects accused of serious crimes to be sent to mainland China for trial.
  • 2019 Security law
    • Following the protests in 2019, Beijing had already imposed a national security law four years ago.
    • The new law was used to prosecute several leading activists.
    • Beijing and the Hong Kong governments said the law brought about stability in the region.

What is Safeguarding National Security Bill?

  • About
    • The ‘Safeguarding National Security Bill’ will come into effect on March 23.
    • It extends the government power to curb any future dissent or challenges that might arise. 
    • This includes expanding the scope of punishing treason and insurrection upto life imprisonment.
    • The law allowing criminal prosecution for specific acts committed anywhere in the world.
    • It also incorporates provisions for imposing tougher penalties on people convicted of working with governments in foreign countries to commit crimes.
  • Key offences and sentences

Key offences and sentences

  • Why has a new law been imposed?
    • The law was introduced to prevent future disruptive protests like the ones that happened in 2019.
    • In 2003, there was an initial attempt to implement a national security law in Hong Kong as required by its mini-constitution. 
    • This sparked protests by nearly half a million people who were concerned that it would threaten the city's freedoms.

Q1) What is Umbrella Revolution?

The Umbrella Revolution was a series of protests in Hong Kong that took place between September 26 and December 15, 2014. The protests were often called the Umbrella Movement, Occupy Movement, or Umbrella Revolution, which originated from a Twitter hashtag that began appearing globally on September 28, 2014.

Q2) What is the Basic Law of the Hong Kong?

The Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is the constitutional document for Hong Kong. It has been in effect since July 1, 1997.