China's top legislature mulls new laws for Hong Kong, Macau

On Tuesday, a Hong Kong court handed down guilty verdicts in the first trial under the national security law. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Chinese top legislative body will discuss imposing new laws on Hong Kong and Macau next month, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday (July 27), a move that could see Beijing assert more influence in the two former colonial cities.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress will review proposals to add national laws to the annexes of the territories' Basic Laws - their de facto constitutions - at its upcoming session from Aug 17 to 20, Xinhua reported, without providing details on the laws being considered.

China imposed sweeping national security legislation on Hong Kong last year. Since then, the law has been cited in the mass arrests of pro-democracy advocates and has fuelled concern among foreign businesses and expatriates about its impact on civil liberties, though signs of an investor exodus are hard to find, more than a year after the crackdown began.

On Tuesday, a Hong Kong court handed down guilty verdicts in the first trial under the law. Tong Ying-kit, a waiter, was found guilty of incitement to secession and engaging in terrorist activities.

While there is no clear indication of what new laws are being considered, there has been speculation that China may need to impose its newly passed anti-sanction law on the two cities to make it effective there as Beijing tries to hit back against sanctions by the US and its allies.

Senior Chinese officials have also hinted that Beijing could further bolster Hong Kong's security laws.

Earlier this month, Mr Zhang Yong, deputy head of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC, said that the Hong Kong national security law needed further work, adding that the NPC Standing Committee has authorisation to draft more legislation as needed, as several types of security offences are not covered by the Hong Kong's measures.

China's own security law covers 11 types of crimes, Mr Zhang said, referring to legislation that covers spying, treason, defection and leaking state secrets.

In comparison, Hong Kong's security law only covers four crimes: secession, subversion, colluding with foreign forces, and engaging in terrorist activities.

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