July 3 (UPI) — Chinese government officials confirmed Friday that they have appointed hardline party official Zheng Yanxiong to lead its new security agency and implement a far-reaching national security law.
Yanxiong is best known in China for his role in dealing with a protest over a land dispute in Wukan, in the southern part of the country, in 2011.
The new law, overseen by an agency that reports directly to Beijing, targets secession, subversion and terrorism with harsh punishments that can include life in prison.
Critics say it erodes Hong Kong’s freedoms, and some pro-democracy activists have resigned their roles in government and even fled the territory.
The law expands Beijing’s oversight of Hong Kong, which had been subsumed by pro-democracy protests that erupted last summer as China attempted to pass legislation that would allow some fugitives in Hong Kong to be extradited to the mainland for trial before Chinese Communist Party Courts.
It went into effect earlier this week, and police made the first arrests under the new law Wednesday.
One of the individuals arrested Wednesday, a motorcyclist accused of riding into a group of police while carrying a flag calling for the liberation of Hong Kong, was charged Friday with inciting secession and terrorism.
Also on Friday, another senior Beijing official said China’s top legislative body could draft more laws affecting Hong Kong in the near future.
“Based on Hong Kong’s actual situation, the standing committee can continue to make more laws, and lay down penalties for acts that threaten national security,” Deng Zhonghua, deputy chief of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told CCTV.