Isaac Lawrence Agence France-Presse The Wan Chai district of Hong Kong is visible behind a barrier barbed wire, June 29, 2023.
The leader of Hong Kong announced Wednesday that the territory, located in southern China, will draft its own national security law in 2024, four years after Beijing imposed a far-reaching text to suppress dissent.
“Certain countries are undermining China and the implementation of “One country, two systems”” (the principle which grants Hong Kong partial autonomy), accused Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee during his speech. Annual Policy Review.
“External forces continue to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs,” the Beijing-approved leader said, adding that the city “will continue to safeguard national security and 'improve its legal system and control mechanisms.
“The government continues to develop effective legislative options and will complete the legislative work in 2024 in order to fulfill our constitutional duty. »
Major pro-democracy demonstrations broke out in 2019 in the Asian financial center, during which hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to demand greater freedoms and autonomy from mainland China.
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In response, Beijing imposed a national security law cracking down on secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with sentences of up to life in prison.
According to the Basic Law , which serves as the constitution of the Chinese Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong is required to develop its own legislation regarding seven security offenses, including treason and espionage.
This task, also called “constitutional responsibility” by the territorial government, has not yet been accomplished, more than 25 years after the return of the former British colony to China .
In 2003, the last initiative was abandoned after half a million Hong Kongers took to the streets to protest.
According to the Hong Kong Security Bureau, a total of 280 people have been arrested until the end of September and 30 sentenced under the national security law in force since it was promulgated by Beijing in 2020.
The large-scale text effectively silenced dissent. Activists were arrested, others fled abroad. The law also had an impact on other aspects of local life, whether arts, literature or even schools.
The city will “develop the patriotic education to (strengthen) national identity […] laying a good foundation for our national unity and solidarity,” John Lee also said on Wednesday.
A task force will be established to “make advance national education and align with the Patriotic Education Law of the People's Republic of China,” he added.
This announcement comes a day after Beijing promulgated it on Tuesday of a law aimed at strengthening patriotic education for children and families, according to Chinese state media.