Riot police officers stand guard outside Central Government Complex as a second reading of a controversial national anthem law takes place in Hong Kong, China May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Beijing has expanded the scope of draft national security legislation to include organisations as well as individuals, media reported on Wednesday, a move that is likely to exacerbate concerns over freedoms in the financial hub.
The news comes after Beijing last week proposed national security laws that drew a swift rebuke from international rights groups and western governments, with the United States branding it a “death knell” for the city’s autonomy.
The law was being revised to cover not just behaviour or acts that endanger national security, but also activities, local broadcaster RTHK and the South China Morning Post reported.
“Mainland lawyers who have handled national security cases in the past say this change could bring not just individuals, but also organisations under the scope of the law,” RTHK said.
The security legislation could pave the way for mainland security agencies to open up branches in Hong Kong. It targets secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference – terms that are increasingly used by authorities to describe last year’s pro-democracy protests.
The law has revived mass protests by demonstrators who say China aims to curb the freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong, a global financial centre with broad autonomy.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong insist there is no threat to the city’s freedoms.
Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Stephen Coates