Hong Kong wants to move up a gear. After announcing, in October 2023, its desire to develop its own national security law, three years after Beijing imposed a large-scale text to repress dissent, the local government insisted, Tuesday, January 30, on the imminence of the project.

“I must emphasize that legislation [under] Article 23 of the Basic Law must be done…as soon as possible,” said leader John Lee, referring to the mini’s article. -Constitution of the South China Territory providing for Hong Kong to legislate on its own national security with respect to seven security crimes. “We cannot afford to wait any longer,” said the chief executive, announcing the publication of a consultation document today.

This text, which will be added to existing legislation imposed by China, will cover five offenses, including treason, insurrection and espionage, several officials including Mr. Lee said. “While we as a society are seemingly calm and secure, we must always be wary of potential sabotage, of undercurrents that attempt to create unrest,” he told reporters .

A project abandoned in 2003

“This is a constitutional responsibility of [Hong Kong] (…) which is not assumed twenty-six years after the handover of Hong Kong” to China by the United Kingdom in 1997, Mr. Lee added. , who assured that freedoms would be protected and that the new laws would respect international standards.

Huge pro-democracy demonstrations shook the financial center in 2019, when hundreds of thousands of people protested to demand more freedoms. In response, Beijing imposed a national security law covering four offenses – secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces – punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The city is administered under the “one country, two systems” principle which allows for separation of legal and judicial structures from mainland China.

In 2003, a local draft text on national security had to be abandoned under pressure from some 500,000 demonstrators opposed to the legislation.