China passes controversial law restricting democracy in Hong King

Pedestrians wearing protective face masks cross an intersection on a shopping street in the Causeway Bay district in Hong Kong, China. EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE

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China‘s parliament passed national security legislation for Hong Kong on Tuesday, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule almost exactly 23 years ago.

State media is expected to publish details of the law – which comes in response to last year’s often-violent pro-democracy protests in the city and aims to tackle subversion, terrorism, separatism and collusion with foreign forces – later on Tuesday.

Opponents of the law argued that this marks the end of the “one country, two systems” — a principle by which Hong Kong has retained limited democracy and civil liberties since coming under Chinese control.

Amid fears the legislation will crush the global financial hub’s rights and freedoms, and reports that the heaviest penalty would be life imprisonment, prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said he would quit his Demosisto group.

“It marks the end of Hong Kong that the world knew before,” Wong said on Twitter.

The legislation pushes Beijing further along a collision course with the United States, Britain and other Western governments, which have said it erodes the high degree of autonomy the city was granted at its July 1, 1997, handover.

Reuters / CNN

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