CHINA passed a new controversial security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday and it has prompted fresh democratic fears.
The law came into effect at 11pm local time, an hour before the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China.
What is the new national security law in Hong Kong?
The exact wording was originally kept under wraps before it came into effect with only a few people seeing what it actually contained.
The law will criminalise any act of subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces.
The heaviest penalty that can be imposed is life in jail, the editor in chief of the Global Times newspaper claimed after citing those who have seen the draft of the law.
Under the law, damaging public transport can be considered terrorism and those found guilty will be banned from standing for public office.
Some trials will not be held in public while individuals can be wire-tapped and put under surveillance if they are suspected of criminality.
Beijing is also set to establish a security office in Hong Kong with its own law enforcement personnel and with the power to send some cases to mainland China to be tried.
Beijing will further have power over how the law should be interpreted and Hong Kong will have to establish its own national security commission to enforce the laws, with a Beijing-appointed adviser.
Why is the new law controversial?
Many are worried the law signals a sharp curbing of Hong Kong’s freedom.
It has been alleged Hong Kong will become a “secret police state.”
The UK, EU and UN have already said they fear the move will be used to stifle any public criticism of Beijing.
Hong Kong’s judicial independence has also been thrown into doubt with a legal system that will look increasingly similar and just as restrictive as mainland China.
But China insists it will restore stability to the area.
What is the Hong Kong independence movement?
Hong Kong independence advocates for it to be its own sovereign state away from Chinese rule.
Ever since sovereignty was transferred from the United Kingdom to China in 1997, many citizens became increasingly concerned about the latter state eroding its freedoms.
A Reuters poll in June found that 21 percent either very much supported or somewhat supported independence.