New national security law in Hong Kong introduces life sentences for treason and insurrection

On March 19, the new national security law was unanimously passed by Hong Kong legislators. This law imposes severe penalties, including life imprisonment, for crimes such as treason and insurrection.

The proposed Safeguarding National Security Law aims to increase the severity of punishments for various offenses. These include treason, insurrection, inciting members of the Chinese armed forces to mutiny, and colluding with external forces to damage public infrastructure. Under the new law, individuals found guilty of these crimes could face a sentence of life imprisonment.

The measure, which was initially introduced 21 years ago, broadened the penalties for 39 offenses. These offenses were divided into various categories, including treason, insurrection, inciting members of the Chinese military to mutiny and disaffection, acts with a seditious intention, sabotage, external interference, theft of state secrets, and espionage.

In a rare move, Legislative Council President Andrew Leung joined the 89 lawmakers in voting in favor of the law, which is set to take effect on March 23.

According to the Hong Kong Free Press, Andrew Leung, the president of the legislative council, stated that although he typically does not vote, the legislation of Article 23 is not an ordinary piece of legislation.

“This bill holds immense significance, and I firmly stand behind it during this momentous occasion. Therefore, I will cast my vote in favor of the bill.”

According to Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee, the Chinese government has expressed its support for the bill.

“Today marks a significant milestone for Hong Kong,” expressed Lee, the former security secretary of Hong Kong who spearheaded the response to the pro-democracy protests in 2019. “We are fulfilling the expectations of the central government and our nation.”

Beijing implemented a national security law in 2020 in response to the protests. This law criminalizes activities such as secession, sedition, subversion, terrorism, and collaborating with foreign agencies to undermine national security in Hong Kong.

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