What does China’s national security law for Hong Kong say?

The new law will ban subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces in Hong Kong.

China Hong Kong
Pro-China supporters display Chinese and Hong Kong flags as they raise a toast with champagne during a rally near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020 [Anthony Wallace/AFP]

A new Hong Kong security law came into effect on Wednesday that will punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city.

Hong Kong authorities threw a security blanket across the territory early on Wednesday, the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to Chinese rule, only hours after Beijing imposed the new legislation.

Some two dozen Western countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, have urged China to reconsider the security law, saying Beijing must preserve rights to assembly and free speech that were agreed when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997.

China says the law is targeted at a few “troublemakers” and accuses the UK and US of interfering in internal matters and fomenting unrest in Hong Kong.

Below are some details on the law, which came into effect at 15:00 GMT on Tuesday.

  • Crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces punishable by up to life in prison.
  • The activities of a new national security agency and its personnel in Hong Kong will not be under the jurisdiction of local government.
  • The central government in Beijing has an overarching responsibility for national security affairs in Hong Kong.
  • Anyone convicted of violating security legislation will not be allowed to stand in any Hong Kong elections.
  • Rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech, of the press, of publication, of assembly and demonstration, will be protected in accordance with the law.
  • Companies or groups that violate national security law will be fined and could have operations suspended.
  • Damaging certain transportation vehicles and equipment will be considered an act of terrorism.
  • Authorities can surveil and wire-tap persons suspected of endangering national security.
  • The law will apply to permanent and non-permanent residents of Hong Kong.
  • The law says the management of foreign NGOs and news agencies in Hong Kong will be strengthened.
  • Hong Kong leader will appoint judges for national security cases under law.
  • Property related to crimes under the legislation could be frozen or confiscated.
  • Mainland authorities will exercise jurisdiction in “complex” cases such as those involving a foreign country, or serious situations that pose a major or imminent threat to national security.
Source: Reuters