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Sweeping national security law imposed as Hong Kong marks handover anniversary

July 1, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Hong Kong woke up to a new reality on Wednesday, after China's central government imposed a sweeping national security law late the night before that critics say has stripped the city of its autonomy and precious civil and social freedoms, and cements Beijing's authoritarian rule over the territory.

Hong Kong (CNN)Hong Kong woke up to a new reality on Wednesday, after China's central government imposed a sweeping national security law late the night before that critics say has stripped the city of its autonomy and precious civil and social freedoms, and cements Beijing's authoritarian rule over the territory.

"The national security law is the most important development in securing ties between China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since the handover," she said, framing criticism of the law as "vicious attacks. "

The maximum penalty for each is life imprisonment. The Chinese central government will establish its own law enforcement presence in Hong Kong, labeled the "Office for Safeguarding National Security. " A secretive national security committee for Hong Kong will also be established, comprised of Hong Kong government officials and an adviser appointed by the Chinese central government.

Hong Kong courts will oversee national security cases but Beijing can take over prosecution in certain circumstances, applying Chinese law and prosecution standards. However the law does not make clear whether the cases Beijing rules on can be held in the mainland.

The anti-government protests last year were sparked over a proposed law that would allow extradition to mainland China. Trials will be held in an open court but when the case involves "state secrets or public order" it can be moved behind closed doors. A new national security unit will be set up in the Hong Kong Police Force that will have the power to search properties, intercept information and perform covert surveillance without a warrant.

The law also directs the Hong Kong government, along with the new commission, to strengthen its management over foreign news agencies and non-government organizations. Ultimately, the national security law trumps local laws: the new legislation states that if there is a conflict with existing Hong Kong law, the national security law will prevail.

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