Hong Kong’s New National Security Law Comes Into Force

A new national security law came into force in Hong Kong on Saturday (Mar 23) despite growing international criticism that it could erode freedoms in the city, which is ruled by China but has some autonomy stemming from its history as a British colony.

The law took effect at midnight when it was published on a government website, days after Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing lawmakers passed it unanimously, fast-tracking legislation to plug what authorities called national security loopholes.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee signed the new national security law on Friday evening, saying it “accomplished a historic mission, living up to the trust placed in us by the Central (Chinese) Authorities”.

Australia and Britain on Friday criticised China for its actions in Hong Kong after a meeting in Adelaide, noting in a joint statement “deep concerns about the continuing systemic erosion of autonomy, freedoms and rights”.

Australia and Taiwan updated their travel advisories for Hong Kong, urging citizens to exercise caution.

“You could break the laws without intending to and be detained without charge and denied access to a lawyer,” the Australian government said.

Hong Kong authorities, however, in a statement, “strongly condemned such political manoeuvres with skewed, fact-twisting, scaremongering and panic-spreading remarks”.


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