Hong Kong Passes New National Security Law Amid International Criticism

Dorothy Li
By Dorothy Li
March 19, 2024Hong Kong

Hong Kong has adopted a new sweeping national security law critics say will crush the city’s remaining freedoms and stifle foreign business in the Asian financial hub.

The new bill, known as Article 23, was passed unanimously by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, a 90-seat body now dominated by politicians backed by China’s ruling Communist Party (CCP) following its “patriots only” overhaul of the city’s electoral system.

Article 23 covers five offenses: treason, insurrection, theft of state secrets and espionage, destructive activities endangering national security, and external interference.

Article 23, outlined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law enacted after its handover from British rule in 1997, mandated that Hong Kong write its own national security code. Previous attempts to legislate the bill in 2003 led to a massive protest, with half a million residents taking to the streets, forcing the government to shelve the proposal.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council presented the bill again on March 8, sparking widespread condemnation from international governments and figures.

The U.S. government has highlighted concerns over the vague and expansive definitions outlined by the Hong Kong government, particularly regarding terms such as “state secrets” and “external interference.” Such ambiguity is feared and “could be used to eliminate dissent through the fear of arrest and detention,” Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the State Department, stated in a February statement.

“We are also concerned that Hong Kong authorities will apply Article 23 extraterritorially in their ongoing campaign of transnational repression to intimidate and restrict the free speech of U.S. citizens and residents.”

Hong Kong already implemented a national security law introduced by the CCP in 2020. Since the enactment of the sweeping legislation, Hong Kong has taken a swift authoritarian turn, with most democratic politicians now either in jail or self-exile, dozens of civil society organizations folding, and international businesses leaving the city.

Despite the criticism, Article 23 fast-tracked through Hong Kong’s legislature in just 11 days and will come into effect on March 23.


The passage of Article 23 immediately drew commendation from lawmakers and activists across the world.

“With this draconian legislation, the Hong Kong government has delivered another crushing blow to human rights in the city,” Sarah Brooks, China director of the Amnesty International, said in a statement.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a coalition of lawmakers from democratic countries focused on constructing a coordinated response to challenges posed by communist China, described Article 23 as “the most repressive national security legislation” in Hong Kong’s history.

“The substance of the law is eye watering in the repression it allows and the chilling effect it will create,” IPAC said in a statement.

“Among other things, it allows sentences of up to 14 years imprisonment if an individual fails to disclose that another person indicates an ‘intention to commit treason,’ which could include participating in peaceful protest or voicing discontent.

“If a journalist or a due diligence report discloses information that is deemed to be a ‘national secret,’ that person can be jailed for 10 years. ”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called on the international community to “unite in condemnation of these actions and fight for justice and accountability” as Beijing continues to aggressively erode basic freedoms in Hong Kong.

“The Chinese Communist Party stops at nothing to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and democracy.”

Cindy Li contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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