Hong Kong legislature unanimously passes new national security law

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 6:04 AM

By James Pomfret and Jessie Pang

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a new national security bill within a fortnight of it first being tabled, fast-tracking a major piece of legislation that critics say further threatens the China-ruled city’s freedoms.

The package, known as Article 23, updates or creates new laws and penalties to prohibit treason, sabotage, sedition, the theft of state secrets and espionage, with up to life imprisonment.

The 90-seat council stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists was first presented with the bill on March 8, following a month-long public consultation, with Hong Kong’s leader John Lee calling for it to be enacted at “full speed”.

All 88 lawmakers and the legislative council president voted unanimously to enact the legislation, which will come into effect on March 23.

(Reporting by James Pomfret, Jessie Pang and Edward Cho; Editing by Ed Osmond)