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New HK law threat to rights

Hong Kong, Sept. 24 (Reuters): Hong Kong unveiled today a planned anti-subversion law that rights groups fear could pose the most serious threat to civil liberties since this former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Chief executive Tung Chee-hwa told reporters that the planned law was necessary for national security.

“Our proposal would not undermine in any way the existing human rights and civil liberties enjoyed by Hong Kong people, nor will our existing ways of life be affected,” he said.

Under the proposal, those found guilty of acts of treason, secession, subversion or sedition could be imprisoned for life. Those found guilty of inciting violence or public disorder can be jailed for up to seven years.

Concerned that Hong Kong will be used as a base by foreign forces to subvert the mainland, Beijing has put intense pressure on the territory in recent months to draft the legislation.

But rights activists are dead against it, saying it could be used against anyone China found objectionable.

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