China’s president on Tuesday signed a decree imposing a controversial new security law on Hong Kong, local media reported.
Xi Jinping signed the decree after the Standing Committee of China’s 13th National People's Congress (NPC), China’s top legislative body, unanimously voted to pass the law earlier today, daily Global Times reported.
The bill came in the wake of months of protests and what China calls "anti-national" activities last year in the semi-autonomous territory.
The legislation would make it a crime to undermine Beijing's authority in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, which has been under Chinese sovereignty since 1997, witnessed large protests last year against a move to legalize extradition of accused people to mainland China.
Ahead of final approval of the law, the US has vowed to eliminate policy exemptions for Hong Kong, including export controls on dual-use technologies.
The new law -- with six chapters and 66 articles -- will criminalize four types of acts and will penalize those involved.
“The crimes of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security” are the four crimes included in the new security law.
The UK, Australia, and Canada also expressed deep concern over the law, saying it could be used to stifle dissent.
Beijing rejects the criticism, saying it will not tolerate meddling in its “internal affairs.”
But Li Zhanshu, chairman of the congress, said, referring to Hong Kong’s special status: “The one country, two systems cause should be steered toward the right direction.”
He emphasized “resolute and effective efforts to safeguard national security and the constitutional order and the order of rule of law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” Xinhua News Agency reported.