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The protests have been cited as a major deciding factor in the resignation of Chief Executive CH Tung two years later and the proposals were shelved, though the bill passed in Macau, which is more pro-Beijing. Opponents of the bill were concerned over the fact it could give authorities warrantless search and entry power to ward off subversion. Wang Chen, a vice-chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, China’s legislative branch, announced the bill could be reintroduced: “Since the extradition bill saga erupted in Hong Kong last year, anti-China forces have publicly advocated Hong Kong’s independence.
“Such acts threatened national sovereignty … and we must take strong measures to prevent, stop and punish.”
Chief Executive Carrie Lam rejected claims the bill would undermine the political, legal and economic autonomy of Hong Kong.
Mrs Lam, on behalf of the Hong Kong Executive Council, said: “It will also provide the best system to ensure prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.
“It won’t affect the capitalist system and rule of law in Hong Kong.
“It won’t affect foreign investors’ interests that are legally protected in Hong Kong.”
Mrs Lam added she was unable to provide details as to how the law would be enforced.
Following the press conference, the Hang Sen Index, the Hong Kong stock market plunged by 5.56 percent.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong warned that such laws could undermine the status the city had as a business hub.
Jimmy Sham of the Civil Human Rights Front told South China Morning Post: “With more than 2 million people, we will see hope, we need to save Hong Kong together.”
Tanya Chan, a Civic Party Legislative Councillor warned the law could make operation difficult for the pro-democracy camp: “Some slogans, such as ending the one-party rule in China, will be stepping on red lines.”
A spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office insisted: “It would not affect the various rights and freedoms that Hong Kong residents enjoy under the law.
“The city’s legal system would not be changed, foreign investors’ interests in Hong Kong will also continue to be protected.”
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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the plan “would be a death knell” and undermine the city’s autonomy.
A stated aim of the plan according to Mr Wang is to stop foreign interference in Hong Kong.
This September will see elections for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.
In total 35 Councillors will be elected from geographic constituencies and a further 35 from functional constituencies, constituencies for various sectors and interest groups.
At the 2016 election, six pro-democracy councillors who won seats were disqualified after using the oath-taking ceremony to make political protests against China.
In the resulting by-elections, the pro-democracy camp lost their majority in the geographical constituencies.
The legislative branch is mostly separate from the executive branch with the Chief Executive being elected by a 2,000 member election committee widely considered to be pro-Beijing.
Some councillors are on the current Executive Council.
The next Chief Executive elections will take place in 2022.
No candidate has confirmed their intention to run but reports suggest Mrs Lam could face a challenge from Regina Ip, a member of both the Legislative and Executive Councils.
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