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Hong Kong's national security law is finally here, and it could change the city forever

July 1, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

HONG KONG, CHINA - JUNE 30: Pedestrians walk past a government-sponsored advertisement promoting a new national security law on June 30, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Beijing has passed the controversial national security law which will threaten the city's autonomy and political freedoms. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Forty days after the Chinese government said it would pass a national security law for Hong Kong, that legislation is now in force, with potentially massive ramifications for the city's political freedoms.

Hong Kong (CNN)Forty days after the Chinese government said it would pass a national security law for Hong Kong, that legislation is now in force, with potentially massive ramifications for the city's political freedoms.

Promulgated in Hong Kong late Tuesday night, bypassing the local legislature, the law criminalizes "acts of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security. "

Right to a trial by jury can be suspended in certain circumstances, cases can be heard in secret, and foreign residents in Hong Kong can be expelled if suspected of violating the law, regardless of conviction.

The national security law trumps any existing Hong Kong laws, should there be a conflict.

The law also extends Beijing's direct control over the city, establishing a new committee for national security that will include a Beijing-appointed adviser, and an "Office for Safeguarding National Security," directly under the Beijing government, which has broad powers to prosecute Hong Kongers deemed to have committed particularly egregious offenses.

Those include lobbying for sanctions against Hong Kong or Chinese officials -- such as those recently imposed by Washington over this very legislation -- "undermining" elections in Hong Kong, "seriously disrupting the formulation and implementation of laws or policies" in the city, or "provoking by unlawful means hatred among Hong Kong residents towards the Central People's Government. "

In China, people have been prosecuted for leaking "state secrets" to overseas media, governments and organizations, something the new Hong Kong law also criminalizes, potentially making it far harder for foreign journalists and NGOs to operate in the city.

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