Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that the new national security legislation China is planning to impose on the city is not against Hong Kong's Basic Law.
Hong Kong's Basic Law gives Hong Kongers the rights "of freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration."
Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security law for Hong Kong that would prohibit treason, secession, sedition and subversion, and permit Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the semi-autonomous territory.
Nearly 200 political figures from around the world on Saturday (May 23) decried Beijing’s new Hong Kong laws.
"I see that there are overseas politicians who have said something that is not true," Lam claimed. She also told reporters that the new legislation would actually "improve" the Basic Law and ensure the "one country, two systems" could be implemented in the special administrative region of China.
The former British colony was returned to China in 1997 under the so-called "one country, two systems" principle. This allowed it to maintain a high degree of legal and political autonomy from Beijing.
Critics say the new law gravely threatens Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The security law plan hit financial markets on Friday, as experts said the move could undermine Hong Kong’s position as an East Asian trading hub. The benchmark Hang Seng index sank 5.6 per cent to a seven-week low.
Thousands of protesters marched through the city in opposition to the planned new security law on Sunday (May 24). Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.
The proposal to draft the law is expected to be passed by China’s rubber-stamp legislature on Thursday (May 28)
“The international community can rest assured about the legislation for Hong Kong,” Xie Feng, China’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong told a gathering of Hong Kong’s diplomatic community, chambers of commerce and journalists. “The legislation will alleviate the great concern among the local and foreign business communities about the violent and terrorist forces attempting to mess up Hong Kong . . . and will create a more law-based, reliable and stable business environment for foreign investors.”
Hong Kong faced upheaval last summer after protests against a proposed extradition bill between Hong Kong and mainland China, which was later abandoned.
With reporting by news agencies and FT