War of words breaks out as Hong Kong prepares for its own national security law

4 months ago 67

Updated

Feb 23, 2024, 02:30 PM

Published

Feb 23, 2024, 02:25 PM

Hong Kong is about to embark on the next step towards putting in place a controversial domestic national security law, after a month-long consultation on the proposed legislation ends on Feb 28.

On Feb 22, the city welcomed Mr Xia Baolong, Beijing’s top official overseeing Hong Kong affairs, who is on a week-long fact-finding visit. Local media cited government insiders as saying he would be gathering feedback on the planned law during his trip.

Chief Executive John Lee had earlier said on Feb 20 that most opinions gathered so far supported the proposed law. But the move has divided some within Hong Kong society as well as the international community.

Hong Kong is required under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, to implement its own national security legislation, and Mr Lee pledged in his policy address in October that his administration would see through the long-delayed move in 2024.

The leader will report the findings of the 30-day consultation exercise to the legislature in due course, but has given no timeline for when the draft Bill will go before lawmakers.

“The general consensus is that if we can do it one day earlier, we should do it one day earlier,” Mr Lee told reporters on Feb 20. “Because the threat (against national security) continues, and the threat has been mounting, so we must gear up our efforts to ensure that we will do it as soon as possible.”

Hong Kong’s domestic national security law has been a highly politically sensitive topic; a 2003 bid to introduce i...

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