Hong Kong (Reuters) – Amid growing influence from China, the Hong Kong parliament passed a controversial immigration law.
Security Minister John Lee countered criticism from human rights activists and from abroad on Wednesday that the authorities in the Chinese Special Administrative Region were thus granted unlimited powers to ban entry and exit. The right to freedom of movement will continue to be guaranteed and the government will enact additional laws in the near future. Hong Kong is facing growing challenges, particularly in the fight against illegal immigration and asylum abuse. Human rights activists and democracy activists fear, however, similarly tough entry and exit restrictions as in China and that the leadership in Beijing is tightening its authoritarian Hong Kong course.
Only last year, despite international protests, China passed a security law that enables stronger action against the democracy movement in Hong Kong. This had previously demonstrated again and again with mass protests against Beijing’s increasing influence in the former British crown colony. Since then, numerous activists have been arrested and sentenced. In March, the Chinese government then massively expanded its authority in Hong Kong by changing the electoral law. Both measures are considered to be the deepest cuts in the autonomy of the Special Administrative Region since the handover by Great Britain in 1997.