Beijing proposes national security bureau for Hong Kong

China’s top legislative body has taken up a draft national security law for Hong Kong that has been strongly criticised as undermining the s Credit: Kin Cheung/AP

China plans to establish a bureau in Hong Kong to investigate and prosecute crimes considered threatening to national security.

The proposal forms part of a new national security law which Beijing is imposing upon the semi-autonomous territory.

In addition, bodies in all Hong Kong government departments, from finance to immigration, will be directly answerable to the central government in Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency said on Saturday.

The announcement increased concerns that China’s communist government will continue to tighten its grip on Hong Kong.

Beijing has said it is determined to press ahead with the national security legislation – which has been strongly criticised as undermining the Asian financial hub’s legal and political institutions – despite heavy criticism from within Hong Kong and abroad.

The details of the proposed national security law emerged as the body that handles most lawmaking for China’s legislature closed its latest meeting.

The bill was raised for discussion at the meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress but there was no further word on its fate, Xinhua said.

Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s sole delegate on the Standing Committee, told Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK that the law was reviewed but no vote had been taken, and that it was not clear when it would be further vetted.

The bill has received heavy criticism, including from the US, which said it will revoke some of the preferential conditions extended toward Hong Kong after its transfer from British to Chinese rule in 1997.