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The Hong Kong Legislative Council passed the Safeguarding National Security Bill, popularly known as Article 23, after fast-tracking public consultation and legislative discussion processes earlier this year.  

In 2003, a similar effort to impose a security law under Article 23 stalled amid widespread public protests. Since then, Article 23 legislation remained a political taboo in Hong Kong, with successive governments hesitating to make the issue a priority. However, electoral rule changes in 2021 which essentially restricted membership in the Legislative Council to pro-Beijing lawmakers allowed for this year’s Article 23 bill to be passed unanimously.  

The legislation, which aims to complement the notorious national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020 and prevent large-scale protests from happening again, introduces new charges of treason, insurrection, sabotage that endangers national security, external interference in Hong Kong’s affairs, and espionage and theft of state secrets, with severe penalties including life imprisonment.


The absence of opposition in the legislative process, coupled with virtually no public protest in the city, reveals a worrying situation in Hong Kong. It appears that the systematic crackdown on civil society and political opposition since the imposition of the NSL in 2020 has successfully put the city under Beijing’s tight control. 

Additionally, the government’s emphasis on the crime of external interference further signals a clear hostility towards international NGOs and human rights organizations, indicating the HKSAR government’s intent to pursue a close alignment with China's authoritarian regime even at the expense of Hong Kong’s autonomy and international reputation. The new offenses of espionage and theft of state secrets also threaten the freedom of information, which is vital to Hong Kong’s status as a financial hub.



As Hong Kong is seeing a devastating increase in political persecution, we will continue to pave the way to a free Hong Kong.

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