How Hong Kong national security law compares to legislation in other countries

(South China Morning Post | July 7, 2020) China’s decision to write up and enact a national security law for Hong Kong was welcomed by city leaders, rejected by protesters, and met with incredulity by some legal authorities, with one remarking that it seemed to apply to “everyone on the planet”. But how does it compare to similar laws elsewhere?

“The striking feature of the new law is that it criminalises expressive behaviour that is not in any way violent.”

National security laws seek to strike a balance between public freedoms and protecting a country, while also shifting in focus as perceived threats change, legal scholars say.

Such a shift was seen after reports by US intelligence agencies that Russia used social media to try to sway the outcome of the US 2016 presidential election, including hacking the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton …

… William Banks, a professor emeritus of law with Syracuse University in the United States, said: “[National security] definitions are a game that all governments play. Pay attention instead to how governments treat their citizens.”

Banks said the terrorism sections in Hong Kong’s new law were similar to those in many other countries and were not by themselves problematic.

“The striking feature of the new law is that it criminalises expressive behaviour that is not in any way violent. The sections on secession and subversion are the key provisions,” he said …

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