Beijing has passed a new national security law on Tuesday. The controversial law grants the government sweeping powers that critics fear will be used to quash Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy. The legislation passed the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress by a unanimous vote. The law sets down new crimes for subversion, splittism, and colluding with foreign governments and outside forces. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will receive authority to appoint judges to hear national security cases, while Beijing gains the power to interpret laws as it sees fit. These developments have cast into doubt whether judicial independence will survive in the territory.Hong Kong Free Press reports that within minutes of the law’s passage, Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong withdrew from Demosisto, the democracy group he had led. Later, Demosisto announced that the group is to disband in a Facebook post.
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