Opposition lawmakers have raised concerns about an unexpected change of wording in the draft national security law unveiled in Beijing – which now criminalises collusion with foreign forces – saying the central government could now easily use the legislation against prominent pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong.
The draft submitted before the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) on Thursday is to cover separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
When the plan for the new law was revealed last month, it was to outlaw the "intervention of foreign forces" in Hong Kong affairs.
Asked about the new wording, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said she only learned about this change from the news. She said she cannot comment on the change before she has more information about the content of the legislation.
But the convenor of the pan democratic camp, Tanya Chan, said she’s very worried by the change in wording, adding she couldn’t find any definition of “collusion” in the mainland's criminal law.
“As far as I can remember, there is no concept about collusion either in Hong Kong or in China, so the NPC may give this word a very wide definition in order to enlarge the possible act, or omission that may bring to the offences,” she said.
“So I really worry about this kind of situation and even if I go to the criminal law of the PRC, I can’t see any direct definition regarding collusion. So in this context, especially this national security law in Hong Kong, I do believe that it will create more concerns and worries.”
Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said he believes the new wording means some prominent pro-democracy figures will be targeted when the law is implemented here.
He said prominent figures like Martin Lee, Emily Lau and Demosisto leaders had tried to tell the international community about what has been happening in Hong Kong by holding talks with people in other countries. From the perspective of the Chinese Communist Party, he warned, this could be seen as collusion with foreign forces.
But lawmaker Holden Chow from the biggest pro-Beijing party, DAB, accused the opposition of scaremongering.
He again repeated previous statements that have been made by the government and its supporters, that the law will target only a small section of the people, and the majority of the people in Hong Kong won't be affected by it.