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Hong Kong Article 23 Rights Threatened Law Approved RCNA

According to Kevin Yam, one of 13 overseas pro-democracy activists accused of national security offenses by Hong Kong authorities, the Hong Kong government is attempting to eliminate the remaining space for criticizing it.

In 1997, when Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese control, Beijing promised to maintain civil liberties in the city. However, a recent measure enacted in Hong Kong has raised concerns among critics who believe it will further restrict free expression in the city.

The bill, known as the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance or Article 23 law, became effective after unanimous approval by Hong Kong's legislature, which lacks opposition. 

This law complements an earlier national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020, which some argue has accelerated the erosion of civil liberties in Hong Kong.

Yam, who is facing national security charges, criticized the vagueness of the Article 23 legislation, stating that it covers a broader range of activities compared to the previous law. Critics fear that Article 23 could significantly impact free expression in Hong Kong.

On the contrary, Hong Kong's top leader, John Lee, believes that the new law will enhance safety and stability in society following the 2019 anti-government protests.

The implementation of Article 23, mandated under Hong Kong's Basic Law, focuses on crimes such as treason, insurrection, theft of state secrets, sabotage endangering national security, and external interference.

While some officials claim that Article 23 will have minimal impact on most people and is aimed at those with malicious intent, critics argue that it could deter Hong Kongers from engaging with international organizations and bodies.

The passage of Article 23 has raised concerns about Hong Kong's status as an international business center, especially amidst economic challenges and tensions between the United States and China.

Some business groups support the law, citing improved safety for businesses and professionals in Hong Kong. However, others express concerns about potential prosecutions under Article 23 and its impact on business dealings.

The passage of Article 23 has evoked ambivalence among residents, with some welcoming increased safety and stability while others lamenting the shrinking space for expression and government control.

In summary, the enactment of Article 23 in Hong Kong has sparked debates about its impact on civil liberties, free expression, and the city's international standing.

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