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Hong Kong Security Law

lawmakers unanimously passed a national security law yesterday strengthening punishments for offenses tied to dissent and espionage. The law, effective Saturday, will expand the city’s ability to crack down on activists and journalists, many jailed following the 2019 antigovernment protests.

Article 23, named after a section of Hong Kong's 1997 mini constitution that mandated such a law, was fast-tracked by the city's pro-Beijing legislature. It expands upon a China-imposed national security law from 2020, punishing treason and insurrection with life in prison. It also penalizes the theft of state secrets and “external interference,” a term critics say is so broad it endangers over 6,000 foreign businesses with offices in Hong Kong. The law also allows the city’s chief executive to bypass the legislature to establish related offenses punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison.

Hong Kong lawmakers attempted to pass similar legislation in 2003 but scrapped the bill following mass protests (see timeline). The city—whose leaders are seen as increasingly aligned with China—is scheduled to become more closely integrated with the mainland in 2047 following the UK's 1997 handover (see history).

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