Foreign secretary Dominic Raab describes China’s controversial Hong Kong security law as a ‘grave step’
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Britain warned of its “deep concern” today after China passed a controversial new Hong Kong security law.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab described Beijing’s move to give it more powers over the former British colony as a “grave step” and added: “Once we have seen the full legislation, we will make a further statement.”
Beijing was expected to release details of the new national security law later today. The legislation follows last year’s often-violent pro-democracy protests in the former British colony and was expected to criminalise secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces.
Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong’s sole representative to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, confirmed to reporters that the law had been passed.
He said punishments would not include the death penalty, but did not elaborate on further details such as whether the law could be applied retroactively.
“We hope the law will serve as a deterrent to prevent people from stirring up trouble,” he said. “Don’t let Hong Kong be used as a tool to split the country.”
Following the news, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong’s Demosisto group said it would dissolve amid fears the legislation will crush the global financial hub’s freedoms.
“It marks the end of Hong Kong that the world knew before,” Mr Wong said on Twitter. “From now on, Hong Kong enters a new era of reign of terror, just like Taiwan’s White Terror, with arbitrary prosecutions, black jails, secret trials, forced confessions, media clampdowns and political censorship.
“With sweeping powers and ill-defined law, the city will turn into a secret police state.”
The editor-in-chief of China’s state-controlled tabloid Global Times said on Twitter the heaviest penalty under the law was life imprisonment, without providing details.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms.