China’s top lawmaking body has announced a three-day session for the end of this month, a move that raises the possibility of the enactment of a national security law for Hong Kong that has stirred debate and fears in the semi-autonomous territory.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Sunday that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress would meet from June 28-30 in Beijing.
The brief report did not mention the Hong Kong security law among several possible discussion items, but it could still be on the agenda or added at the meeting.
China released some details of the legislation late Saturday, heightening fears that the central government is tightening its grip on Hong Kong after months of anti-government protests last year.
Under the draft, the central government would set up a national security office in Hong Kong that would collect and analyze intelligence and deal with criminal cases related to national security.
Hong Kong police and courts would maintain jurisdiction over criminal cases under the law, but it would allow Chinese authorities to exercise jurisdiction over “a tiny number of criminal cases … under specific circumstances,” according to a Xinhua report.
It did not provide any details on what the circumstances might be.
The timing of the upcoming legislative session is unusual, coming just one week after a three-day meeting that ended Saturday, and suggests that China may be aiming to pass the law ahead of a July 1 holiday that marks the day Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997. The Standing Committee of the congress typically meets every two months.
Anti-government protesters smashed their way into the locked Hong Kong legislative complex on the anniversary last year, spray painting slogans on the walls and damaging the electronic voting system. Months of protests last year, in which Chinese flags were trampled on and the Chinese emblem on its Hong Kong office defaced, prompted the central government’s decision to enact the law.