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Hong Kong: Concern over China's natl. security law met with mixed business reaction, casting doubts over city's freedoms

During its annual Two Sessions in May 2020, China proposed and approved a resolution to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. While the details of the legislation are yet to be set out, it is understood that such acts as secession, subversion and terrorism as well as activities by foreign forces that interfere in Hong Kong could be made criminal. The enactment of the new security law will bypass the legislature of Hong Kong and be implemented by the Hong Kong government upon its promulgation. 

China’s move has shocked both Hong Kong and the international community, as many are worried that it will not only pose significant threats to the freedoms of Hong Kong that have set the city apart from its sovereign, but also violate the principle of One Country Two Systems, upon which the Chinese and British governments agreed as an imperative part of the handover arrangements in 1997 and which has been specified in the Basic Law, the mini-constitution of Hong Kong that would expire in 2047. There are also widespread worries that the rule of law and autonomy of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region would be undermined when the new legislation is enacted.

Among other members of the society, the business sector has also voiced out their concerns. A few foreign business chambers have called for clarification of the details of the legislation and urged the government to explain how the integrity of the One Country Two Systems principle would be sustained upon the enactment of the national security legislation. Other companies, including HSBC, Standard Chartered, Jardine Matheson, however, have voiced support for the new law.

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