China proposes law to tighten its grip on Hong Kong

"We are concerned about the situation in Hong Kong".

The session will be followed Friday by the opening of the National People's Congress, the ceremonial parliament.

Hong Kong was required to introduce security legislation after the handover from British control to China in 1997. NPR's Emily Feng is following all this from Beijing.

INSKEEP: What's in this legislative proposal? These are really general terms that could be applied widely to everyone from protesters to politicians, even universities and media outlets.

Last year, Hong Kong erupted with paralyzing protests as demonstrators challenged a separate bill that would have allowed residents to be extradited to China. They shouted "National security law ruins Hong Kong!"

"But the other is to draft it up in Beijing and instruct the Hong Kong Government to put it into effect".

INSKEEP: OK. So does this mean that Hong Kong essentially doesn't have the partial autonomy that it has had since becoming part of China again in the 1990s?

Mr Pompeo said the decision to bypass Hong Kong's lawmakers ignores "the will of the people". Some have described the proposed anti-sedition law as a "mark of desperation" after nearly a year of not being able to halt the protests.

Since the return to China in 1997, Hong Kong has been governed by the Basic Law, which allows the territory "to enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication", barring matters of defence and foreign affairs. Here's Dennis Kwok. He is a prominent pro-democracy lawmaker speaking earlier today at a press conference. This increases the possibility of Chinese security forces on the streets of Hong Kong.

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As set out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, "One Country, Two Systems" is set to expire in 2047.

Around this time past year, criticism was mounting in Hong Kong over a proposed bill that would allow people wanted by the Chinese authorities to be sent to the mainland.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam, now in Beijing for the annual congress, said in a statement that she supported the bill that would safeguard security and was in the interests of all Hong Kong residents. Beijing believes nearly a year of mass protests and, at times, paralysing confrontations on the streets shows that now it is needed more than ever.

Over the past year, as multiple million-plus peaceful marches descended into violent stand-offs and mass arrests, it became clear to all in Hong Kong and Beijing that the values of these two cities were only widening.

The move is also significant in that China's central government appears to have all but given up hope that Hong Kong's administration will succeed at passing local legislation on such a law, amid a hostile political environment and deeply divided city, the report said. This time, Beijing's taking no chances.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong - the largest pro-establishment group in Hong Kong - said it welcomes and fully supports the proposal.

For two decades, Beijing has been frustrated by widespread popular opposition to national security laws that were thwarted by mass protests in Hong Kong during an initial push in 2003.

"Attempting to circumvent the HK legislature shows a complete disrespect for the rule of law".

Laws that harm democracy, human rights and Hong Kong's freedom under the guise of national security will increase societal instability and heighten risks for worldwide citizens in the city, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said in an emailed statement. Thank you very much.

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