HONG KONG - New Hong Kong security laws 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 city early on Wednesday, the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to Chinese rule, only hours after Beijing imposed the new national security laws on the city.
Some two dozen Western countries, including Britain and the United States, have urged China to reconsider the security laws, saying Beijing must preserve the right to assembly and free speech in the Asian financial hub.
China says the laws targeted at a few “troublemakers’ and accuses Britain and the United States of interfering in internal matters and fomenting unrest in Hong Kong.
Following are details of the laws, which took effect at 1500 GMT.
* 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 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.