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China parliament approves Hong Kong security legislation and intensified tensions with the US

New legislation was passed by China’s Parliament on Thursday and this will empower Beijing for the first time to draft laws of national security for the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

With a great majority of 2878 votes for one against six abstentions, National People’s Congress (NPC) passed the legislation. “NPC Decision and Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanism for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to Safeguard National Security,” empowers the NPC to draft new National Security Laws for Hong Kong.

It is said that the laws can cover any activity that “seriously endangers national security” said the draft legislation. It also aims at enabling, “measures to counter, lawfully prevent, stop and punish foreign and overseas forces’ use of Hong Kong to carry out separatist, subversive, infiltrative, or destructive activities”.

In Hong Kong, some pro-democracy parties and some of the legal community criticized the decision of NPC as undermining the “one country, two systems” model. Hong Kong is being governed by basic law since 1997 and this gives SAR “executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication”. The central government handles only defence and foreign affairs.

“Fully, and accurately implement the principles of one country, two systems,” says the law. Organs of the central government are also enabled by it. “for the protection of national security” to set up “institutions in the HKSAR”, had become a specific source of concern.

“It is entirely unclear how the proposed agencies set up in the HKSAR will operate under the laws of the HKSAR, whether they will be bound by the laws of the HKSAR, whether they have the power of enforcement, and whether such powers as exercised will be limited by the laws currently in force in the HKSAR”, stated by Hong Kong bar association.

It could block foreign judges sitting in national cases of security. The final appeal of Hong Kong’s court has 15 judges. Under a system which aimed to ensure judicial Independence for a global financial centre.

“Will still follow the principle of Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong”. He said “one country, two systems,” said China’s Premier Li Keqiang said China at his annual press conference which also follows NPC. “One country, two systems” is a basic state policy of China. “A high degree of autonomy” Beijing will continue to ensure.

With a motive to manage differences and “discard a ‘Cold War’ mentality” Mr Li called press conference over China and the U.S. “I believe both countries should respect each other and develop a relationship on the basis of equality, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns and embrace cooperation,” he said.

He also said that this year China will aim at positive economic growth. The government will be relying on increased liquidity rather than any massive stimulus measures.

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