Wednesday Briefing

The new legislation was passed with extraordinary speed.Credit…Peter Parks/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Hong Kong passed new security laws, bowing to Beijing

Hong Kong passed national security laws at the behest of Beijing, thwarting decades of public resistance and establishing steep penalties for vaguely defined political crimes. Critics said the move would strike a lasting blow to the partial autonomy that the Chinese government had promised the city.

The first attempt to pass such legislation, in 2003, set off mass protests. But since 2020, when China imposed its own security law on Hong Kong, opposition figures have been jailed and public protests quelled. This time, the streets of Hong Kong were quiet.

Amelia spoke with Tiffany May, who covers Hong Kong for The Times.

How will these laws affect Hong Kong?

Tiffany: Whether it makes things better or worse depends on whom you ask.

Hong Kong has been an Asian financial center for decades because it was seen as a gateway to business opportunities in the mainland with an independent judiciary as its backbone. It also enjoyed freedoms unimaginable in the rest of the country.

But in recent years, the city has more closely followed China’s hard-line approach. The new national security bill, known as Article 23 legislation, targets ambiguous offenses such as “external interference” and “theft of state secrets.”

Critics say that this could chill all criticism of China and pose new risks for international business operations, eroding the very freedoms that had made the city an international business hub.

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