Hong Kong, China:
China passed a comprehensive national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday, a historic move that critics and many Western governments fear will stifle the financial center's freedoms and undermine its autonomy.
The law was unanimously adopted by the Chinese stamp parliament on Tuesday morning, just over six weeks after its first unveiling, and sent shock waves through semi-autonomous Hong Kong and beyond.
The United States, Britain, the European Union and the United Nations watchdog have all expressed concerns that the law could be used to suppress criticism of Beijing, which applies similar laws to mainland authoritarianism to suppress dissent.
In an unprecedented decision, Hong Kong's law circumvented controversial lawmakers and the wording was kept secret from the city's 7.5 million residents.
"The national security law for Hong Kong was officially adopted today by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress," said DAB, Hong Kong's largest pro-Beijing party, in a statement on Tuesday welcoming the law.
Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao – two Hong Kong newspapers that serve as channels for Beijing's official policies – also confirmed the law's adoption, as did several local Hong Kong media citing anonymous sources in Beijing.
Even when it became known that the law had been passed, the Hong Kong people remained in the dark about its content and what could now be a crime.
At their weekly press conference on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong chairwoman Carrie Lam, a Beijing-appointed person, declined to comment on whether the law had been passed or what it contained.
"I think it is inappropriate for me to comment on issues related to the national security law at the moment," she told reporters.
"End of Hong Kong"
"So what on earth has happened?" Figo Chan, a head of the Civil Human Rights Group, wrote on his Facebook page.
Prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong tweeted: "It marks the end of Hong Kong that the world previously knew. With far-reaching powers and poorly defined laws, the city becomes a secret state."
In a largely symbolic move, the United States ended sensitive exports of defense equipment to Hong Kong through the law on Monday.
"We can no longer differentiate between exporting controlled items to Hong Kong or mainland China," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"We cannot risk that these objects fall into the hands of the People's Liberation Army, the main purpose of which is to maintain the dictatorship" of the Communist Party.
Hong Kong was guaranteed certain freedoms – as well as the autonomy of justice and legislation – for 50 years in an agreement known as "One Country, Two Systems".
The formula laid the foundation for transforming the city into a world-class business center, backed by a reliable judiciary and political freedoms not seen on the mainland.
Critics have long accused Beijing of giving up this status in recent years, but they describe the Security Act as the brazenest step to date.
A summary of the law, released earlier this month by the Xinhua official state agency, says China's security agencies can go public shopping in the semi-autonomous city for the first time.
Beijing has also announced that it will be responsible for a number of cases and to break the legal firewall that existed between Hong Kong and the party-controlled mainland courts since the 1997 handover.
On the mainland, national security laws are routinely used to jail critics, particularly because of the vague offense of "subversion".
Beijing and the Hong Kong government reject these allegations.
You said that the laws will only appeal to a minority of people, will not affect political freedoms in the city and will restore business confidence after a year of historical protests for democracy.
Millions took to the streets last year, while a smaller group of demonstrators frequently fought the police in increasingly violent clashes that arrested more than 9,000 people.
The scale, frequency, and ferocity of the protests have declined dramatically in recent months as the democratic-friendly movement has been hampered by the outbreak of the corona virus, bans on public gatherings, and aggressive police tactics.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)