China to start work on Hong Kong security bills June 18

BEIJING — China will hammer out the details of pending national security laws to be imposed on Hong Kong starting June 18 amid protests in the territory over fears that the legislation will imperil civil liberties.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress — the country’s parliament — decided the schedule for the three-day meeting on Tuesday, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The committee will deliberate on the bills, and after it approves them, they will be put into effect by the Hong Kong government.

The proposed laws would prohibit acts of “separatism, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference” in Hong Kong. They would also allow the mainland’s security apparatus to operate in the city.

Hong Kong is governed under the “one country, two systems” framework, which grants the city a high degree of autonomy for 50 years following 1997 handover from the U.K. to China. However, by using exemptions in Hong Kong’s Basic Law — the de facto constitution of the territory — the proposed legislation will allow the mainland’s laws to be applied in Hong Kong without being discussed or voted on in the territory’s legislature.

Beijing decided to introduce the national security laws at the full session of National People’s Congress, which ended last month, but it did not provide specifics over the penalties for dissident activities or how the laws will be enforced. The government led by President Xi Jinping is believed by some to be rushing to put the laws into effect to prevent pro-democracy candidates from taking a majority in Hong Kong’s legislature in the upcoming election in September.

Hong Kong media have reported that the laws could be passed and put into effect this month.

The announcement of the laws kicked off fresh protests in the city and drew criticism from Western governments, especially Washington where U.S. President Donald Trump said he would revoke Hong Kong’s special trade status over the move.

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