On June 30, China passed the Hong Kong national security law, which went into effect immediately. The official Xinhua News Agency published the full text of the law. Four crimes now all carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The law is more far-reaching than most people expected.
A foreigner who exercises freedom of speech in a foreign country and advocates Hong Kong independence may be arrested in Hong Kong. As long as any of the “criminal acts or results” occur in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), it will be deemed to be a crime in Hong Kong. The law also applies to any Hong Kong permanent resident or a Hong Kong based company that commits a relevant crime outside of Hong Kong. For non-Hong Kong permanent residents outside Hong Kong, they are also punishable even if they commit the relevant crimes outside Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong national security law stipulates four crimes.
Separatism. The chief offenders are subject to life imprisonment or imprisonment of more than ten years. Active participants imprisonment may be between three and ten years, while others imprisonment will be less than three years.
Subversion. Any act of subversion shall be punishable by imprisonment of from less than three years up to life imprisonment.
Anyone who incites, assists, abets, or sponsors with money or other property the commission of the above two crimes can be sentenced to from less than five years to more than ten years in jail.
Terrorism. Those that cause significant losses can be sentenced to life imprisonment or imprisonment for more than 10 years. Lessor offenders may receive between three and ten years imprisonment. Propagating terrorism and inciting terrorist activities are also crimes and can be subject to imprisonment of less than five years or less than ten years.
Collusion with foreign countries or external forces endangering national security. Offenses include stealing, purchasing, and illegally providing state secrets or intelligence to foreign or overseas organizations and personnel. Offenses also include requesting relevant organizations or individuals to implement or conspire to implement, directly or indirectly accepting their instructions, control, and funding to support the implementation of five actions.
The five actions include conducting sanctions, blockades or other hostile actions against the HKSAR or China; manipulation and sabotaging of the elections, causing possible serious consequences; various illegal methods that trigger the hatred of the Hong Kong residents towards the central government or the HKSAR government that may cause serious consequences.
The HKSAR government will establish a new Committee for Safeguarding National Security (CSNSC), and Beijing will set up a corresponding Commission for Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong (CSNSHK), headed by a vice minister of Public Security. For the first time, the national security law clearly stipulates that the CSNSHK, instead of the HKSAR, will exercise direct jurisdiction over the case under three circumstances: First, the case involves the intervention of foreign or external forces, making it difficult for the HKSAR to exercise jurisdiction; second, it involves a serious situation in which the HKSAR government cannot effectively implement the national security law; third, a situation where national security faces a major and real threat.
There are also other controversial stipulations in the national security law.
The work of the CSNSC is free from interference from any other agencies, organizations and individuals in the HKSAR government. The information is not disclosed and decisions made are not subject to judicial review.
The law emphasizes that neither the suspect nor the defendant shall be released on bail unless the judge has sufficient reason to believe that the suspect or the defendant will not continue to endanger national security.
The law stipulates that the Chief Executive of the HKSAR shall appoint a number of judges to handle crimes against national security. Anyone who has expressed words or committed deeds that endanger national security shall not be designated as a judge to hear national security criminal cases. During the appointment, if the judge has words or deeds that endanger national security, the qualification of the appointed judge will be terminated.
If there is any inconsistency between the local laws of HKSAR and the national security law, the provisions of the latter shall apply. The right to interpret the Hong Kong national security law belongs to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
Source: Central News Agency, July 1, 2020