China on Friday brought for approval a new national security law for the “defenseless” Hong Kong to “safeguard” national security.

China’s vice-chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, Wang Chen, said: “The increasingly notable national security risks in HKSAR [Hong Kong Specially Administered Region] have become a prominent problem.”

Referring to year-long protests against the local government, Wang said such activities have “seriously challenged the bottom line of the principle of one country, two systems, harmed the rule of law, and threatened national sovereignty, security and development interests,” Xinhua news reported.

However, Wang said ‘one country, two systems’ had achieved “unprecedented success” in Hong Kong ever since 1997 when the UK handed over region to Beijing.

Hong Kong, an autonomous region under China since 1997, had been witnessing protests since early 2019 against the Carrie Lam administration’s move to legalize extradition to mainland China.

The bill has now been dumped, however, the street demonstrations left the city reeling, with international financial observers expressing concern over the economic prospects of the business hub.

“Law-based and forceful measures must be taken to prevent, stop and punish such activities,” Wang said, citing Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which holds Hong Kong responsible to “prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the Central People’s Government (CPG).”

“More than 20 years after Hong Kong’s return, however, relevant laws are yet to materialize due to the sabotage and obstruction by those trying to sow trouble in Hong Kong and China at large, as well as external hostile forces,” Wang said.

In the current situation, Wang said, “efforts must be made at the state-level to establish and improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms […] to advance the institutional building to safeguard national security on the course of China’s Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong.”

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