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Hong Kong Has Passed Another National Security Law That Makes It Even Easier For The Government To Crack Down On Opposition

Under the new law, known as Article 23, people can face up to life in prison if they are found guilty of “endangering national security”.

Hong Kong has passed another national security law that makes it even easier for the government to crack down on opposition.

hong kong passed article 23 protesters signs against scaled
A group of protesters with signs against article 23 gathers outside the Foreign and Commonwealth office to listen to speeches on March 23, 2024 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Martin Pope/Getty Images)

Under the new law, known as Article 23, people can face up to life in prison if they are found guilty of “endangering national security”.

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Hong Kong activist Alexandra Wong, also known as Grandma Wong, waves Britain’s Union Jack as she holds a solo protest in front of the Central Government Offices against the city’s new home-grown national security law, in Hong Kong on March 8, 2024. (Photo by Holmes CHAN / AFP)

The definition of “national security” is now copied from China, where is it a vague concept that covers “major interests of the state”.

security law article 23 passed hong kong
Hong Kong people living in Taiwan protest against Hong Kong’s new Article 23 national security law, in Taipei on March 23, 2024. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP)

This means that it can be applied to basically everything, according to Amnesty International.

protesters signs against article 23 hong kong
A group of protesters with signs against article 23 gathers outside the Foreign and Commonwealth office to listen to speeches on March 23, 2024 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Martin Pope/Getty Images)

Under the law, which went into effect on Saturday March 23, people found guilty of “treason” and “insurrection” could be jailed for life.

Hong Kong John Lee Ka chiu Paul Lam Ting kwok security law article 23
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu(C), Paul Lam Ting-kwok(l), Secretary for Justice of the Hong Kong special administrative region, Hong Kong Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung attend the public consultation proposed to be titled “Safeguarding National Security Ordinance”. (Photo by Chen Yongnuo/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)

It increases the sentence for “sedition” – that is speech or activities rebelling against authorities – meaning people can now be jailed for 10 years criticizing the government.

Political activist Tony Chung article 23
Political activist Tony Chung (C) joins a march through the streets of London as people gather to protest against the introduction of the Article 23 National Security Law in Hong Kong, on March 23, 2024. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

People can also be jailed for 14 years if they did not report someone they knew had committed or is about to commit treason.

Independence for Hong Kong flag article 23
A protester wearing a hard hat and a face covering carries an Independence for Hong Kong flag at the demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth office on March 23, 2024 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Martin Pope/Getty Images)

In addition, Article 23 creates a new category of crime called “external interference”.

protester holds sign Hong Kong oppose Article 23
A protester holds a sign saying ‘Hong Kong oppose Article 23’ at the demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth office on March 23, 2024 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Martin Pope/Getty Images)

Under this, people who collaborate with “external forces” on activities that threaten national security can be jailed for up to 14 years.

against the proposed security measures hong kong article 23
A protester with full face covering holds a sign against article 23 at the demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth office on March 23, 2024 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Martin Pope/Getty Images)

In this case, external forces can include any individuals or groups associated with foreign governments and political parties, as well as international organizations in business, academia or even the UN.

article 23 security law passed hong kong
A placard is held at a demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office in London to protest the introduction of the Article 23 National Security Law in Hong Kong, on March 23, 2024. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

The government now also has the power to cancel passports or suspend professional qualifications such as lawyer licenses for people who have moved overseas and are accused of threatening national security.

protest against Hong Kongs new national security law article 23
People gather to protest against Hong Kong’s new national security law outside the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles on March 23, 2024. Hong Kong’s new national security law came into force on March 23. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

Hong Kong’s leader John Lee says the law, which was passed unanimously in less than two weeks, will “safeguard national security” and hailed it as a “historic moment”.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka chiu article 23
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu speaks to the media ahead of an Executive Council meeting on March 26, 2024 in Hong Kong, China. (Photo by Li Zhihua/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)
trial Hong Kongs most prominent pro democracy article 23
Police keep watch outside a court in Hong Kong on February 6, 2023 as the trial of 47 of Hong Kongs most prominent pro-democracy figures begins in the largest prosecution under a national security law that has crushed dissent in the city. (Photo by Peter PARKS / AFP) (Photo by PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

However, rights groups have said that the law’s vague definitions could be used to silence critics with harsh punishments.

People demonstration Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office hong kong passed article 23
People hold up placards at a demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office in London to protest the introduction of the Article 23 National Security Law in Hong Kong, on March 23, 2024. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

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