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Hong Kong: Beijing may base security agencies in Hong Kong

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HONG KONG: A proposal to impose national security laws in Hong Kong could see mainland intelligence agencies set up bases in the global financial hub, raising fears of direct enforcement by Chinese authorities in the city and the prospect of fresh protests.

The details were unveiled on Friday, a day after Beijing proposed the new controversial national security legislation that critics see as an historical turning point for China’s freest city.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday called the legislation disastrous and said it could have an impact on the favourable economic treatment the territory receives from the US. “The United States condemns the … proposal to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose national security legislation on Hong Kong,” Pompeo said.

He said the decision to ignore the will of the people of Hong Kong would be a “death knell for the high degree of autonomy Beijing promised for Hong Kong” under a decades-old agreement known as the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The security law plan hit financial markets on Friday, due to concerns the semi-autonomous city’s status as a financial hub was at risk, with Hong Kong stocks selling off as China’s parliament sat to discuss the new law. The Hang Seng index closed 5.6% down, the largest daily percentage drop since July 2015.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will “fully cooperate” with the Chinese parliament to complete the legislation, which she said will not affect rights, freedoms nor judicial independence. “It is starting to look like a USChina summer of discontent in the making,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp.


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In his annual report to the Chinese parliament, Premier Li Keqiang said China will establish a “sound” legal system and enforcement mechanisms to ensure national security in Hong Kong and Macau, its other semi-autonomous city.

The proposed legislation for Hong Kong requires the territory to quickly finish enacting national security regulations under its mini-constitution, the Basic law, according to a draft seen by Reuters.

The document said the laws will safeguard the central government’s “overall jurisdiction” as well as Hong Kong’s “high autonomy”. “When needed, relevant national security organs of the Central People’s government will set up agencies,” in Hong Kong to safeguard national security, the draft said.

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