In a major setback for those protesting the government, China has enacted a controversial law that would allow authorities to clamp down on those involved in ‘subversive and secessionist activity’ in the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong, reported news agency AP.
Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong’s only representative to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, told reporters that the law which was passed on Tuesday, 30 June, would not include death penalty, but refused to clarify if it could be applied in retrospect.
“We hope the law will serve as a deterrent to prevent people from stirring up trouble... Don’t let Hong Kong be used as a tool to split the country.”Tam Yiu-Chung told reporters
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said that once the law is passed, “the Hong Kong government will announce it and promulgate it for implementation here, and then I and my senior officials will do our best to respond to everyone’s questions, especially regarding the enforcement of this national law.”
According to AP, the controversial law provides for checking “subversive, secessionist and terrorist activities” while also allowing for curbs on foreign intervention in matters specific to the city.
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, including Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Nathan Law, issued statements on Facebook, suggesting that they might withdraw from Demosisto, a pro-democracy organisation .
According to AP, Wong stated that “worrying about life and safety” have now turned into pressing issues, especially when there’s no clarity whether those charged under the law would be penalised.
Meanwhile, hundreds gathered at a luxury mall in Hong Kong’s central business district, while chanting slogans including “Free Hong Kong, Revolution Now.” Several protesters also held flags reading “Hong Kong Independence.” Many protesters were later detained by the police.
The law has met with strong opposition within Hong Kong and condemnation from former colonial ruler Britain, the US, the European Union and others.