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China parliament eyes Hong Kong national security law after unrest

Pompeo Warns US May Reassess Hong Kong Status After Alleged Attack on Press

Martin Lee, barrister and founder of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, said he was one of at least 14 detained Saturday on charges of organizing and participating in unlawful protests past year.

On Monday, the pro-Beijing camp installed its own committee chair, armed with external legal opinion saying they had the power to end the deadlock.

Xinhua said a preparatory meeting for a Chinese parliament session adopted an agenda that included an item to review a bill "on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security". In June, thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest their local government's efforts to pass a bill that to make it easier for China to extradite fugitives from the city to the mainland.

"I'm speechless", said Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker, of the proposed national security legislation.

It is the second time in a fortnight that clashes have broken out as pro-democracy supporters try to scupper a law that bans insulting China's national anthem.

Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam said last week that passing the bill was a priority for the government, and the bill will be presented to the committee on 27 May.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives on the West Kowloon magistrates court.

Political unrest had cooled during the coronavirus outbreak but its resurgence was apparent on Monday, when a number of pro-democracy lawmakers were dragged out of the legislative chamber during a row about a Chinese national anthem bill that would criminalise disrespect of it.

Millions hit the streets past year for seven months of pro-democracy rallies that often spun out into clashes between police and petrol bomb wielding protesters.

The Hong Kong dollar weakened on the news.

Police (R) take part in a clearence operation during a pro-democracy demonstration calling for the city's independence at a mall in Hong Kong on May 16, 2020.

In response to Patten's comments, China's foreign ministry in Hong Kong said in a statement that Patten was instigating the young people of Hong Kong to continue to act like hooligans as "cannon fodder for political gain".

These protests may also flare up on July 1, which is an annual rally that takes place on the anniversary of Britain's handover of Hong Kong to China.

Earlier on Thursday, Beijing said a national security bill would be discussed in China's annual parliamentary session on Friday, fueling concerns that street protests will flare up again in the semi-autonomous city.

Following a closed-door meeting of China's top political body late past year, an official communique spoke of the need to "improve" Hong Kong's legal system, which some saw as a reference to Article 23.

"In Hong Kong, our decision on whether to certify Hong Kong as having a high degree of autonomy from China is still pending", said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a news conference on Wednesday.

"Used to say it's the beginning of the end for Hong Kong".

Media captionWhy were Hong Kong fans booing their anthem?

An editorial in the state-run China Daily said the law meant that "those who challenge national security will necessarily be held accountable for their behaviour".