Beijing: Designed to quell pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, China’s top legislative body unanimously passed the contentious National Security Law.
The law, which contains six articles and 66 clauses, and will go into effect immediately and it prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.
Approved by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), the law is expected to carry a maximum penalty of life in jail, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper reported.
Sources told the SCMP that the law was approved unanimously by the standing committee’s 162 members, within 15 minutes of the meeting that started at 9 a.m.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she welcomed the introduction of the legislation.
“Safeguarding national security is the constitutional duty of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). The HKSAR Government welcomes the passage of the national security law by the NPCSC today,” Lam said in a statement.
The law is expected to come into effect on July 1, the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover to China from British rule, according to SCMP.
The law’s passing is expected to fuel further anger and protests in the city, which was rocked by over six months of increasingly violent anti-government unrest last year.
Opponents of the law say it marks the end of the “one country, two systems” — a principle by which Hong Kong has retained limited democracy and civil liberties since coming under Chinese control, the CNN said.
Soon after the passage of the law, key opposition leaders Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Agnes Chow Ting, and Jeffrey Ngo announced they were resigning their party and quitting politics.
Wong is believed to have played a major role in lobbying US politicians for their support to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act last year.