NPC 2020: What next with approval of national security legislation for Hong Kong?

Police are seen during a protest against the implementation of a national security law in Hong Kong on May 24, 2020.
Police are seen during a protest against the implementation of a national security law in Hong Kong on May 24, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The National People's Congress (NPC), China's Parliament, on Thursday (May 28) approved a resolution that sets the stage for a national security law to be passed in Hong Kong. Here are some things to know related to the move:

Q. What happens now?

A. As the top lawmaking body in China, the NPC's move could have far-reaching consequences in Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region.

The ball now moves to the Standing Committee of the NPC, which would flesh out details of the legislation in consultation with the Hong Kong government and the Basic Law Committee.

Q. How soon can this happen?

A. Many analysts believe the entire process would be completed within the year, with some suggesting this could happen as early as August.

Q. Does this mean laws in China will automatically apply to Hong Kong?

A. Not entirely.

Differences between the legal systems in China and Hong Kong will be reconciled in the Basic Law Committee, which helps interpret mainland laws in the Hong Kong context. The committee has six legal experts each from the mainland and Hong Kong.

The group will likely be heavily involved in the wording and drafting of Hong Kong's national security law.

Q. Will there still be a need for Hong Kong to carry out Article 23 and enact another national security law?

A. Yes, said Dr Willy Fu of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation. The final legislation from the NPC will be added to Annex 3 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini Constitution, but it does not replace Article 23.

"Point Three of the draft law says that Hong Kong still has to implement Article 23," Dr Fu told The Straits Times. But he noted that there was some overlap with the national security law, especially regarding secession and foreign interference.

"But the Hong Kong government is still obligated to pass the law, though they might modify it slightly."

 
 
 

Q. Who will enforce the new law?

A. Specifics have not been released since the law is technically yet to be drafted.

But using Macau - which has had similar legislation since 2009 - as a guide, it is likely that local law enforcement will still be the ones doing the enforcing, Dr Fu said.

In 2018, Macau created a national security commission chaired by the Chief Executive and the region's Secretary for Security, along with top Macau officials as members. The commission is meant to help organise and coordinate work relating to sovereignty, security and developing "national interests".