Official: Hong Kong will create more national security offenses.
A top official revealed Tuesday that Hong Kong will create a slew of new national security offenses, building on a legislation Beijing enacted last year that criminalized widespread dissent and changed the territory.
Former police chief Chris Tang, who was appointed to security secretary this year, said officials had begun working on local legislation to establish new offences under the security law.
Tang told the pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao newspaper in a front-page report published on Tuesday, “We expect to complete it during the next legislative term, and we will communicate with the public.”
Tang claimed officials were reviewing existing national security cases to inform their new legislation in a separate interview with Sing Tao Daily, another pro-Beijing media outlet.
Tang told Sing Tao’s EastWeek magazine, “We didn’t pay much attention to espionage activities in the past, and now we’re considering whether we need to control it.”
Last year, in reaction to massive and frequently deadly democracy rallies in Hong Kong, China enacted a broad national security law.
Subversion, secession, terrorism, and coordination with foreign forces are all prohibited under the law.
It has been used heavily against anyone who espouse specific political ideas, reshaping the previously freewheeling and outspoken metropolis in China’s authoritarian image.
Article 23 of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution will guide the new security law, according to Tang.
After the handover to China in 1997, Hong Kong is required by Article 23 to pass its own national security legislation.
An effort to do so in 2003 generated massive protests and fears that Hong Kong’s distinctive freedoms might be lost. The bill was put on hold.
One of the reasons Beijing lost patience after the 2019 democracy protests and promulgated its own law last year was Hong Kong’s inability to adopt its own security measures.
Some of Article 23’s offenses, such as secession and subversion, are already addressed by that law.
Treason, sedition, theft of state secrets, and steps to prevent “foreign political organizations” from operating in Hong Kong – or Hong Kongers from contacting them – would all be new crimes.
Tang did not provide a timeline for the new law’s passage, but stated that it would be passed by the next legislature.
In December, Hong Kong will elect a new legislature under a new political system imposed by Beijing, in which only around a quarter of the legislature’s seats would be directly elected, and only those deemed “patriotic” will be allowed to run for office.
The legislature is normally in session for four years at a time.
Offenses against national security are punished differently than other offenses.
Brief News from Washington Newsday in Hong Kong.