Hong Kong's pro-democracy lawmakers sharply criticised China’s move to take over long-stalled efforts to enact national security legislation in the semi-autonomous territory, saying it goes against the “one country, two systems” framework that promises the city freedoms not found on the mainland.
Scuffles broke out in the Hong Kong Legislative Council today as opposition legislators protested against the move, with two legislators forcibly dragged out of the chamber.
The proposed bill, submitted on the opening day of China’s national legislative session today, is aimed at forbidding secessionist and subversive activity, as well as foreign interference and terrorism. It comes after months of pro-democracy demonstrations last year that at times descended into violence between police and protesters.
The move, one of the most controversial items on the agenda of the National People’s Congress in years, drew strong rebukes from the US government and rights groups.
Despite that, Beijing appears to have lost patience and is determined to assert greater control and limit opposition activity following last year's protests.
A previous effort to pass such legislation in Hong Kong's legislature was shelved after massive street protests in 2003.