The standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) will be granted the power to add the clauses of a national security law into the Annex III of the Basic Law during the “two sessions.”
Citing unnamed sources, several Hong Kong media outlets said the NPC delegates will soon discuss and pass a motion to authorize the NPC standing committee to set up a national security law for Hong Kong. The law, which was said to be a Hong Kong version of the mainland’s one, will cover four crime categories: secession, subversion against the central government, foreign interference, and terrorism.
The clauses of this law will be put into the Annex III of the Basic Law according to the requirements of the mini-constitution’s Article 18, which stated that the national laws listed in Annex III shall be applied locally by way of promulgation or legislation by the special administrative region (SAR). It means that Hong Kong’s Legislative Council will not be involved in the entire process.
It is expected that the NPC standing committee will hold a meeting in mid-June and that the law will be passed before September, reports said.
Hong Kong delegates of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) were invited to an evening meeting on Thursday with Xiao Baolong, director the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), in Beijing. They, together with those of NPC, will meet senior Chinese leaders on Saturday or Sunday.
The annual meeting of the CPPCC began on Thursday morning. Wang Yang, chairman of CPPCC, said on Thursday in an opening speech that the system and mechanism in Hong Kong in relation to the constitution and the Basic Law should be improved in the year ahead.
On Wednesday US time, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a news briefing that the recent treatment of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists makes it more difficult to assess whether the territory remains highly autonomous from Beijing, a requirement for the special treatment it enjoys under American law.
Pompeo said a congressionally-mandated State Department assessment as to whether the SAR has such a degree of autonomy was still pending.
“We are closely watching what’s going on there,” he said.
On Thursday, a spokesman for the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong strongly condemned “ungrounded allegations and unreasonable pressure” from American politicians, including Pompeo.
“They are unwilling to see the torn-apart Hong Kong society heal and get back on track. Their evil hearts are laid bare,” according to the statement.
Prior to this, the US State Department said on May 5 that it would delay submitting to Congress a report on whether Hong Kong enjoys sufficient autonomy from China to continue receiving special treatment from the world’s biggest economy.
Pompeo said in a media briefing that the delay was to allow the report “to account for any additional actions that Beijing may be contemplating in the run-up” to the NPC annual meeting on May 22 “that would further undermine the people of Hong Kong’s autonomy.”
In 2003, the Hong Kong government submitted a national security law bill to the Legislative Council for discussion and approval. After half-a-million people rallied in the streets to oppose the bill, the pro-business Liberal Party decided it would no longer support it, forcing the government to withdraw it.
Over the past 17 years, Beijing has reiterated many times that there is a need to implement a national security law in Hong Kong. Last year, Beijing said foreign powers, particularly the US, United Kingdom and Taiwan, had intervened in Hong Kong’s affairs by supporting the anti-extradition protests.