Hong Kong: pro-independence v pro-China | The Economist

A proposal to introduce a National Security Bill in Hong Kong could lead to Chinese mainland intelligence agencies to set up bases in the global financial center, potentially triggering new urban protests.

On the eve of Beijing proposed a new controversial law «About national security», which critics see as a historic turning point for China’s freest city.

Right after that, Hong Kong activists called on residents to rebel against Beijing’s initiative, which caused panic in business and diplomatic circles..

Foreign diplomats fear that the creation of new agencies in China-controlled city ​​could give mainland security and intelligence officials powers that could potentially endanger the rights and freedoms of city residents.

Democratic activists including Joshua Wonga, plan to meet with the press to announce the start «street protests».

«This is a great time to reboot our struggle», – said a student who participated in last year’s massive anti-government demonstrations that have died down due to the coronavirus.

The bill’s plan hits financial markets amid fears that the city’s semi-autonomous status as a financial center will be in jeopardy.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed 5.6% lower, largest daily drop since July 2015.

Leader of Hong Kong Carrie Lam stated that her government will fully cooperate with the Chinese parliament to complete the drafting of legislation that, she said, will not affect the rights, freedoms and independence of the judiciary.

Among other things, the bill could heighten tensions between Beijing and Washington, which are already undermined by trade disputes and recriminations over the pandemic..

President of the U.S.A Donald Trump warned Washington would react immediately if Beijing passed the law «About national security».

Hong Kong's independence is under threat

In his annual report to the Chinese parliament, the Premier Li Keqiang stated that China will create «healthy» legal system and mechanisms for ensuring national security in Hong Kong and Macau, its other semi-autonomous city.

The document says the laws will guarantee «general jurisdiction» central government as well «high autonomy» Hong kong.

«If necessary, the relevant national security organs of the Central People’s Government will establish special agencies», – said in the draft.

Foreign diplomats fear that this could lead to the formalization and expansion of the security and intelligence presence of the mainland.. They are currently unable to take any coercive action in the city..

A previous attempt to pass such legislation in 2003 was met with a protest that gathered about half a million people on the streets and was ultimately delayed..

Local pro-democracy lawmakers condemned Beijing’s plans, calling them «end of Hong Kong».

According to bankers, the bill will lead to capital flight and high-value personnel from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's independence is under threat

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