A controversial bill aimed at quashing unrest in Hong Kong has received the rubber stamp from China's ceremonial legislature—it passed the National People's Congress Thursday by a vote of 2,878 to 1, with 6 abstentions, the AP reports. The Standing Committee of the Communist Party will now finalize details of the new law, which, according to the bill passed Thursday, will "prevent, stop, and punish any acts or activities" that harm national security, including secession, subversion, and "activities by foreign forces that interfere in Hong Kong," reports the BBC. The Guardian notes that charges like subversion are often used to silence dissenters in mainland China.
The bill states that if necessary "national security organs of the Central People's Government will set up agencies in Hong Kong to fulfill relevant duties to safeguard national security in accordance with the law." The national security bill has sparked an international outcry, with critics saying it will undermine the semiautonomous territory's civil liberties. The law is likely to take effect in September, and Chinese authorities have signaled that there will be an immediate crackdown, which could result in the banning of activist groups, the New York Times reports. At least 360 people were arrested in Hong Kong Wednesday as thousands protested the bill and a separate Hong Kong law making it illegal to insult the Chinese national anthem.
(More Hong Kong