China has boasted "holding a sword over the heads of lawbreakers" after Beijing passed a new security law that gives it unprecedented jurisdiction over Hong Kong.
President Xi Jinping signed the law on Tuesday after it was unanimously approved by the Beijing stamp parliament and bypassed a vote in Hong Kong.
The law prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces with a maximum sentence for life in prison for some crimes.
It also enables China's feared security services to openly settle in the region.
Pro-democracy activists have warned that the law will be "the end of Hong Kong as we know it", but China insists that after violent protests it is necessary to restore order.
Beijing has boasted that it has "a sword over the heads of lawmakers" after its parliament passed a new security law that gives it unprecedented jurisdiction in Hong Kong (pictured here, the police are guarding democracy-friendly people in a city mall today Protesters).
Activists say the bill will be "the end of Hong Kong as we know it" while China insists that it is necessary to restore order after months of violent clashes in the city (image, police are looking for democratic demonstrators)
Hong Kong independence demonstrators gathered today in a city mall to observe a minute's silence after the security law was passed
"It marks the end of Hong Kong that the world has known before," said activist Joshua Wong's figurehead as he quit the democracy-friendly Demosisto party he founded during the 2014 protest for fear of reprisals.
& # 39; With far-reaching powers and poorly defined laws, the city becomes a secret police state. Hong Kong protesters now have a good chance of being extradited to Chinese courts for trial and life sentences, ”he added.
But Beijing and the Hong Kong government have insisted that laws only appeal to a minority of people and restore corporate confidence after a year of democracy-friendly protests shook the city.
"For the small minority that threatens national security, this law will be a sword that hangs over their heads," said China's main body for Hong Kong affairs.
"For the vast majority of Hong Kong residents and foreigners in Hong Kong, this law is a protective spirit that protects their freedoms," said the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.
The statement said that the central government and city government would "work together" to ensure that the law would be implemented and "usher in a turning point so that chaos becomes governance."
In the midst of tensions, Carrie Lam, general manager of Hong Kong, attended a ceremony with former managing directors to celebrate the day of the foundation.
This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China on July 1st
Hong Kong CEO, Carrie Lam (Central), is standing with former executives attending a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate China's National Day celebrations early
The Chinese and Hong Kong flags are deployed during a flag raising campaign on Hong Kong's Golden Bauhinia Square
Helicopters hoist the flags of Hong Kong and China over Victoria Harbor, while Hong Kong marks the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China
Pro-democracy groups dissolve for fear of a backlash
Pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong were quickly disbanded on Tuesday when it became known that Beijing had passed a new security law that extends the scope of its courts to the city-state.
Demosisto, founded by well-known activist Joshua Wong, was the first to leave – the Hong Kong National Front soon followed.
Nathan Law, who helped found Demosisto, warned of a "bloody cultural revolution" on the horizon, but vowed to continue to fight personally.
"Stay strong, my friends. Hong Kong people will not give up, ”he said.
National Front spokesman Baggio Leung announced that he would leave the group as it disbanded in Hong Kong.
The group said it would continue to fight for freedom but would now operate from its Taiwan and UK offices.
The Taiwanese government, which is believed to protect several hundred democracy-friendly activists, condemned the new law on Tuesday, saying it would "seriously affect the freedom, human rights, and stability of Hong Kong society".
Amnesty International also condemned the move, saying it gave China powers to impose its laws on the city-state.
CY Leung, former director of Hong Kong, offered a HKD 1 million (USD 130,000) reward to anyone willing to provide information about those who violated the new security law.
He posted the reward on Facebook along with a hotline number that he could call with tips.
China promised the city 50 years of freedom when it was surrendered by British rule in 1997, but Britain, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations have all expressed concerns that the new law will be used to suppress criticism of Beijing .
The law was passed in Beijing to bypass the Hong Kong Parliament without the Chinese Communist Party's announcement.
Instead, the news about pro-Beijing politicians and local media was filtered out.
At their weekly press conference on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, a person appointed for Beijing, declined to comment on the terms of the law.
Instead, she urged the world's leaders to "respect our country's right to preserve national security."
"I urge the international community to respect our country's right to national security and the efforts of the Hong Kong people for stability and harmony," said eh.
When Lam spoke about the law back in May, he insisted that "there is no need to worry" and that "the fundamental values of the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, diverse rights and freedoms of people remain." # 39;
Claudia Mo, an opposition lawmaker, said today: "The fact that Hong Kong people will only learn afterwards what is really contained in this new law is more than absurd."
In 1997, Hong Kong was guaranteed certain freedoms – as well as the autonomy of justice and legislation – in an agreement known as "One Country, Two Systems".
At their weekly press conference on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam (pictured) – a person appointed for Beijing – declined to comment on the terms of the law
Pro-Beijing supporters wave Chinese and Hong Kong flags and drink champagne today as they celebrate a controversial new security law
It formed the foundation for the city's transformation into a world-class business center, backed by a reliable judiciary and political freedoms that were not seen on the mainland.
Critics have long accused Beijing of giving up this status, but they describe the security law as the brazenest step to date.
A summary of the law, released this month by the Xinhua official state agency, says China's secret police will be able to open a business in the city for the first time.
Beijing has also announced that it will be responsible for a number of cases and to break the legal firewall that existed between Hong Kong and the party-controlled mainland courts since the 1997 handover.
Analysts said the security law radically restructured Beijing-Hong Kong's relationship.
"It is a fundamental change that is dramatically undermining the local and international community's trust in Hong Kong's One Country, Two Systems model and its status as a robust financial center," said Dixon Sing, a Hong Kong political scientist.
Human rights groups have warned that the law may target opposition politicians who are considered insufficiently loyal to Beijing to be arrested or disqualified.
On the mainland, national security laws are routinely used to put critics in prison, particularly because of the vague offense of “subversion”.
A pro-China supporter takes a selfie at a rally in Hong Kong today when the news fell that the new security law had been passed
The Hong Kong police arrested a demonstrator for democracy during the May demonstrations
Beijing and the Hong Kong government both insist that the laws only appeal to a minority of people and do not affect political freedoms in the city.
They also say that the measure will restore corporate confidence after a year of historic protests for democracy.
On Tuesday, four young democracy activists, including Joshua Wong, said they would resign from the party they founded, while a small group for independence said it would dissolve.
Millions took to the streets last year, while a small group of demonstrators often fought the police in violent clashes that arrested more than 9,000 people.
Hong Kong has banned protests in recent months, citing past riots and the coronavirus pandemic, although local broadcasts have ended.
Some western nations warned of possible effects on Beijing before the security law was passed.
However, many are concerned about drawing Beijing's anger and losing lucrative access to the mainland's huge economy.
Democracy-friendly activist Joshua Wong (pictured) said that "far-reaching powers and poorly defined laws" would make Hong Kong a "secret police state".
Taiwan, which said it was ready to help Hong Kong residents move to the island, was one of the first governments to respond.
"The government condemns this move, which seriously affects freedom, human rights and stable development in Hong Kong society," the cabinet said in a statement.
Washington – which has started a trade war with China – said the security law means that Hong Kong no longer has sufficient autonomy from the mainland to justify special status.
In a largely symbolic move, the United States ended sensitive exports of defense equipment to Hong Kong through the law on Monday.
"The United States is forced to take these measures to protect the United States' national security," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
& # 39; We can no longer differentiate between exporting controlled goods to Hong Kong or mainland China. We cannot risk that these objects fall into the hands of the People's Liberation Army, whose main purpose is to maintain the dictatorship of the (ruling communist party) by any means necessary. & # 39;
Britain had said it would be ready to provide millions of Hong Kongers with a "path to citizenship" if the security law came into force.
The United States is leading a global backlash against China's new security law
The United States has stopped sensitive defense exports to Hong Kong and said it can no longer differentiate between the territory and mainland China.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US could not risk handing over items such as weapons and ammunition to the People's Liberation Army.
The State Department approved defense sales of $ 2.4 million to Hong Kong last year, of which $ 1.4 million were actually broadcast.
Mike Pompeo has announced that the US will no longer send sensitive military equipment to Hong Kong because it cannot distinguish between the territory and mainland China
The Department of Commerce said at the same time that it was revoking its special status for Hong Kong.
It will now treat the region the same as China for "dual-use exports" that have both military and civilian uses, which means that they will be severely restricted.
"We are not pleased to take these measures, which is a direct result of Beijing's decision to violate its own obligations under the Sino-British joint declaration registered by the United Nations," said Pompeo.
Beijing threatened to retaliate against the United States over the sanctions on Tuesday.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese State Department, warned that China is "not afraid of threats" from America.
He claimed that "the US conspiracy" will never "succeed" and called on the Trump administration to stop interfering in its internal affairs.
"In response to the US side's erroneous measures, the Chinese side will take the necessary countermeasures and will defend its national interests with determination," said Zhao.
President Donald Trump's government has already said that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous in the eyes of the United States, and has taken a number of measures in response.
The State Department said on Friday that it would restrict visas to an unspecified number of Chinese officials responsible for violating the autonomy of the Asian financial center.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday that "the US scheme … to hinder the passage of Hong Kong's national security law will never take precedence."
"In order to combat the above-mentioned illegal acts by the United States, China has decided to visa-restrict American people who have behaved in outrageous ways in matters affecting Hong Kong," said Zhao.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said that 3 million Hong Kong citizens will be offered a "path to citizenship" if the security law is passed
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab added that the UK intends to keep a promise to offer passport holders of UK (overseas) citizens a territorial path to citizenship if the law is passed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously promised a historic change in the visa system that could potentially allow 3 million Hong Kongers to live and work in Britain.
"Many people in Hong Kong fear that their lifestyle, which China has committed to abide by, is under threat," he said before the law was passed.
If China continues to justify its fears, Britain cannot shrug and leave with a clear conscience. Instead, we will meet our commitments and offer an alternative. & # 39;
The European Union and the United Nations watchdog have also criticized China for the law.
Last week, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill imposing mandatory economic sanctions on Chinese officials, the Hong Kong police and banks that work with them if it is found to be affecting the city's autonomous status.
Zhao, the State Department spokesman, warned that the US "should not review, drive, or implement relevant negative Hong Kong bills, and should even less impose so-called sanctions on China, otherwise China will take decisive countermeasures."
Hong Kong was hit by seven consecutive months of protest last year, initially triggered by a ultimately abandoned plan to allow extradition to the mainland.
But they soon turned into a popular uprising against Beijing's rule and widespread calls for democracy.
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