Updated: Apr 5
On 30 June 2020, Beijing signed its contentious national security law, granting the Chinese government sweeping powers to crack down on opposition and dissent by people in Hong Kong and by Hong Kongers abroad. The law, which was swiftly approved in Beijing, criminalises “secession, subversion, organization and perpetration of terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security”. Transgressions of these vaguely defined terms warrant severe consequences, including and up to, for certain offences, life in prison. The Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, passed the law in an effort to expand his control over Hong Kong, and more specifically to quash the pro-democracy protests which have been intensifying in recent years into a confrontational challenge against China’s encroachments in Hong Kong.
In response to this erosion of their rights, the British government has promised to protect the people of Hong Kong by offering some of them a path to British citizenship.
The law, which has been widely criticised as anti-democratic, came into effect the same day the official text was published. Within 24 hours of it coming into force, the first arrest under the national security law was made, as a man was detained for holding a Hong Kong independence flag. His arrest was the first of many, proving critics of the law, who