Beijing to have sweeping powers over Hong Kong security law, stoking concerns

China will have overarching powers over the enforcement of a new national security law in Hong Kong, according to details released on Saturday that signalled the deepest change to the city’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The planned law has alarmed foreign governments as well as democracy activists in Hong Kong, who were already concerned that Beijing is eroding the high degree of autonomy granted to the territory when it was handed over from British rule.

According to details released by the official Xinhua news agency, Hong Kong will establish a local national security council to enforce the legislation, headed by the city’s leader Carrie Lam and supervised and guided by a new central government commission created by Beijing. A mainland adviser will also sit on the new Hong Kong body.

New local police and prosecution units will be set up to investigate and to enforce the law, backed by mainland security and intelligence officers deployed to Beijing’s new commission.