China plans sweeping national security law for Hong Kong

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Critics believe the Hong Kong government, which has moved to limit freedoms in the wake of the pro-democracy protests a year ago, has become wary of political events like the Tiananmen vigil, reported UDN. The two camps disagree about the appointment of a committee chairman to discuss new bills.

The meeting quickly dissolved into acrimony and scuffles, as lawmakers arrived to find a pro-Beijing politician, Chan Kin-por, sitting in the chairperson's seat, according to Hong Kong's public broadcaster, RTHK.

The US-China standoff escalated in March after Beijing said it would expel several journalists from three US publications and bar them from working in Hong Kong after Washington labeled Chinese state news outlets in the US as foreign agents. The demonstrations were initially sparked by a controversial extradition bill but evolved into a demand for greater democracy. The scene repeated itself Monday many members of the pro-democracy group were dragged out of the chamber by security guards shortly before a pro-Beijing lawmaker, Starry Lee, was elected the committee's chair.

It's the second time in recent days there have been scuffles in the Legislative Council.

Analysts said it was clear that Beijing wanted to gnaw away at Hong Kong's relative freedoms compared with the mainland.

Opposition in Hong Kong's Legislative Council, however, made it unlikely such a bill could pass at the local level.

The arrest of 15 activists in April, including veteran politicians, a publishing tycoon and senior barristers, thrust the protest movement back into the spotlight and drew condemnation from Washington and global rights groups. He has often been critical of developments in Hong Kong since then, saying the terms were violated. Although Hong Kong participates as a separate entity in sporting events, they have the same national anthem as China.

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"The social unrest a year ago showed that the Hong Kong government was unable to handle passing [national security legislation] on its own", Ng said, according to the Post.

Beijing's Communist Party wants a new national security law targeting Hong Kong that will ban secessionist protests and what it calls subversive activity and foreign interference in the city, a new report said Thursday.

"Will NGOs and charities like Amnesty International and Hong Kong Watch become illegal?" he asked. "A broad-brush interpretation of this law would signal the end of Hong Kong as we know it".

Signed into law in late November, it requires the State Department to certify annually whether Hong Kong is "sufficiently autonomous" to warrant the special USA trading privileges distinguishing it from mainland China.

"I don't think you can kill or lock up or tear gas into submission the idea of freedom", said Patten, who was Hong Kong's last colonial governor before the city was returned to China and helped negotiate the terms of the handover. She said this was the "saddest day in Hong Kong history". "This is the end of Hong Kong".

Members of the Consultative Conference will "tell the world about how China, as a responsible major country, has taken firm action and contributed to worldwide cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic", Wang Yang, the chairman of the body, said in a report to the opening session.

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