Show an ad over header. AMP

New Hong Kong national security law sets harsh penalties for broadly defined political crimes

Hong Kong's government released the text of a new national security law imposed by Beijing just as the law came into force on Tuesday.

What it says: The law defines crimes such as terrorism and sedition broadly, but mandates harsh sentences — in many cases life imprisonment — for those found to have committed them. It will be enforced by a National Security Committee, headed by Hong Kong's chief executive, without any input from the judiciary.


Between the lines: The national security law manifests the Chinese Communist Party's approach to governance known as "rule by law," rather than "rule of law."

  • It includes sweeping definitions of crimes and penalties that gives the government broad power to limit people's political freedom, while explicitly denying any kind of independent oversight of the law or how it is carried out.

The big picture: The security law is the clearest encroachment to date on the autonomy that has allowed Hong Kong to flourish as a global financial hub, with political and legal protections unimaginable on the mainland.

  • Hong Kong's future is currently unclear, with the U.S. revoking special trading privileges on the grounds that the city is no longer autonomous from China, and everyone from activists to international corporations concerned about how the law will be implemented.
  • It was approved in response to last year's massive pro-democracy protests in the city, and appears designed in part to prevent further mass displays of dissent.

Zoom in: The law describes the bureaucratic and organizational outlines of the new security state.

  • It establishes a Hong Kong government national security committee, exempts decisions made by the committee from judicial overview, and mandates that the committee must have a Beijing-appointed advisor.
  • It prohibits "collusion" with foreign governments or institutions, which could potentially target those who have called on international bodies to condemn China or lobbied the U.S. Congress for sanctions.

More details:

  • Leading a terrorist organization carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, but it's unclear what sorts of organizations that designation will apply to.
  • There is concern in Hong Kong that the prohibition of "terrorist activity" will be applied broadly and arbitrarily. The law does get specific in some instances, with "destroying a vehicle" cited as possible terrorist activity.
  • The law requires Hong Kong to carry out "national security education" — a particularly controversial element given local resistance to propaganda in schools.
  • The law also requires Hong Kong's police to establish a national security division, and states that it may hire "specialists and technicians from outside the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region" — meaning mainland China.

What to watch: The law explicitly states that it applies beyond Hong Kong’s borders and to everyone, whether they are a Hong Kong resident or not. The legal implications of that are unclear but potentially could be extraordinarily contentious if applied as written.

Romney calls Trump's commutation of Roger Stone's sentence "historic corruption"

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Saturday tweeted a scathing response to President Trump's Friday night commutation of former associate Roger Stone's prison sentence, calling the move "[u]nprecedented, historic corruption."

Why it matters: Romney has emerged as the party's most prominent Trump critic. He sent shockwaves through Washington after announcing he would vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial — becoming the only Senate Republican to break ranks and vote for the president's removal from office. Now he is the first major GOP lawmaker to condemn Trump's Friday night call regarding Stone.

Keep reading... Show less

We're losing the war on the coronavirus

By any standard, no matter how you look at it, the U.S. is losing its war against the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The pandemic is not an abstraction, and it is not something that’s simmering in the background. It is an ongoing emergency ravaging nearly the entire country, with a loss of life equivalent to a Sept. 11 every three days — for four months and counting.

Keep reading... Show less

Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence

President Trump on Friday evening commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, according to two senior administration officials. Stone in February was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

Why it matters: The controversial move brings an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars. He had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14.

Keep reading... Show less

Appeals court denies Roger Stone's call to delay sentence

The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia on Friday denied Roger Stone, President Trump's former associate, a requested delay to his 4o-month prison sentence for lying to Congress during the Russia probe.

Why it matters: Stone is set to report for his sentence on July 14. Trump on Friday said he was "looking at" commuting Stone's sentence, adding his former aide and longtime confidant was "unfairly treated," according to the Washington Post.

Which states have set single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: COVID Tracking Project and state health department data compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti and Naema Ahmed/Axios

13 states this week surpassed records set just last week for their highest number of coronavirus infections in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health department data. 16 states in total reported new highs.

The big picture: The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't just due to increased testing — particularly where the number of cases has grown fastest over the last month, Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens report.

Keep reading... Show less

The reality of the coronavirus brings death and disruptions

It feels like mid-March in America again. The coronavirus is surging, deaths are climbing and the country is dreading a wave of disruptions, less than four months since the first round started.

The big picture: Lingering under all the happy talk of future plans is the reality of this virus — which thrives in potential super-spreader conditions like mass gatherings.

Keep reading... Show less

Podcast: Rural America has its own coronavirus problem

It's often easier to socially distance in rural America, but it can simultaneously be more challenging to get medical care.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the pandemic's urban-rural divide with microbiologist Amber Schmidtke, who has found that coronavirus-related morbidity is higher in many of Georgia's rural counties than in Atlanta.

Biden and Trump tussle over "buy American" proposals

President Trump and Joe Biden are going back and forth over the former vice president's "buy American" economic proposal, which Trump claims Biden "plagiarized" from him.

Why it matters: Biden is directly challenging Trump and his "America First" agenda with the release of his latest plan, focused on economic recovery and re-investing in American manufacturing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories