Beijing, May 28 (IANS) The National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, on Thursday endorsed a resolution authorising its Standing Committee to tailor-make a national security law for Hong Kong.
Thursday afternoon’s vote took place just before the closing of the annual session of the NPC, which started on May 22, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
The resolution, officially known as the “draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security”, was approved with 2,878 deputies from around the country voting in favour and one voting against, while six abstained.
The vote means the NPC Standing Committee is now authorised to propose a law prohibiting acts of secession, subversion, terrorism or conspiring with foreign influences in Hong Kong.
Under the law, the Hong Kong government will also be required to set up new institutions to safeguard sovereignty, while allowing mainland agencies to operate in the city as needed.
In an unexpected move, the proposed resolution was amended on Tuesday, expanding its scope to prohibit activities that would “seriously endanger national security”.
The Standing Committee, which last met in April, convenes every two months and is expected to hold its next meeting as early as June.
That would be the earliest date at which the legislation could be advanced, said the South China Morning Post newspaper report.
It came hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a potentially huge blow to Hong Kong, told the Congress the city was no longer suitably autonomous from China.
Pompeo, and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, spoke on Wednesday and shared their concerns over Beijing’s proposed security legislation.