New Hong Kong security laws came into effect on Wednesday that will punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city. But pro-democracy campaigner Bonnie Leung highlighted that China has not had the new bill translated into English. Lord Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, explained the chief executive of Hong Kong did not read the law before it came into effect.
Speaking to Channel 4 news, Lord Patten said: “What’s particularly interesting is that even though the chief executive of Hong Kong didn’t know what was in it until it was published.
“She’s been saying how terrific it was and putting up posters around Hong Kong.
“It didn’t say underneath, whatever it may turn out to be!
“It does pose a real threat to not only Hong Kong’s freedom but it’s status as an international and financial hub.
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“I don’t think Xi Jinping cares a damn.
“If there’s damage done to Hong Kong, it will be damage done by the Chinese Communist Party which is is behaving with aggressive loutishness which the rest of us shouldn’t put up with.”
Hong Kong authorities threw a security blanket across the city early on Wednesday, the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to Chinese rule, only hours after Beijing imposed the new national security laws on the city.
Some two dozen Western countries, including Britain and the United States, have urged China to reconsider the security laws, saying Beijing must preserve the right to assembly and free speech in the Asian financial hub.
As hundreds of protesters gathered downtown for an annual rally marking the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China, riot police used pepper spray to arrest at least two people, while one metro station closed.
China’s parliament adopted it in response to months of pro-democracy protests last year triggered by fears that Beijing was stifling the city’s freedoms, guaranteed by a “one country, two systems” formula agreed when it returned to Chinese rule.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.
But critics fear it will crush the freedoms that are seen as key to Hong Kong’s success as a financial centre.