(HONG KONG) — Hong Kong’s legislature has unanimously passed a strict security law, 11 days after it was tabled in an unusually fast turnaround.

Authorities in Hong Kong have argued that the law is necessary to uphold stability and “plug any holes” left by the sweeping National Security Law, which was imposed by China following widespread protests in 2019.

Article 23 was mandated under Hong Kong’s mini constitution, but plans to enact it in 2003 were shelved after mass protests. This time, Hong Kong’s chief executive, John Lee, made it clear the government wanted it passed with “full speed.” Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have spent the last few years dismantling political opposition and stacking the legislature with only “patriots” loyal to Beijing.

A lengthy bill that ran more than 200 pages, Article 23 expands on the already broadly worded National Security Law.

Article 23 also targets new offenses like insurrection and external interference. Lee hailed its passage as a “historic moment,” adding that the bill targets “potential sabotage and undercurrents that try to create troubles.” Penalties include life sentences.

There are fears, however, the new security law could further erode Hong Kong’s already diminished freedoms and semi-autonomy.

Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, a coalition of western lawmakers, released a statement criticizing the passage of the Article 23 law, saying, “Aside from representing a disastrous deterioration in Hong Kong’s already diminished freedoms, it fundamentally changes the business environment.”

It may also have a lasting impact on the city’s competitive edge, impacting investor appetite for a city once viewed as a safe investment gateway to mainland China.

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