Hong Kong moves towards enacting tougher security law amid concerns about freedoms

HONG KONG — A public consultation period for a new Hong Kong national security law closes on Wednesday (Feb 28) amid concerns that the legislation, which authorities want to put in place soon, will further erode freedoms in the financial hub.

The law, known as Article 23, is aimed at addressing what officials call deficiencies or loopholes in the national security regime, which was bolstered just four years ago by another national security law imposed directly by China.

It will target crimes including treason, theft of state secrets, espionage, sabotage, sedition and “external interference” including from foreign governments. The Hong Kong legislature, which is dominated by pro-Beijing lawmakers, is expected to approve it.

The law comes as the former British colony is trying to improve its image, and economy, amid international criticism of a China-led crackdown on freedoms and dissent which has sent many pro-democracy politicians and activists into jail or exile.

Several lawyers and activists say the law criminalises basic human rights such as freedom of expression.


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