China’s top officers in Hong Kong strongly suggest changing the National Security Law. Here’s why

The new Hong Kong official in China urged the city to enact legislation for domestic security and speculated that Beijing could push a law that prompted mass protests nearly two decades earlier to renew its efforts.

In the Communist Party’s People’s Daily Monday, Luo Huining, who was appointed as leader of the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong earlier this month, wrote: “External forces will infiltrate China uninhibited,” if the city fails to adopt such a law. Luo cited the former neighboring colony of Macau as a model for its adoption of strict national safety law.

The ninth page of the People’s Daily, a placement that suggests that the issue was one that was of less importance by the traditions of the party’s highest mouthpiece, has been Luo’s comment. Nonetheless, comments may boost the fear of China tightening its grip after months of unprecedented disruptions in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp.

Although Luo did not specify the legislation Beijing wanted to be passed, he described the move as a constitutional obligation for Hong Kong and suggested that it applied to the measures of national security provided for in Article 23 of the Basic Law of the City. Since 2003, when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in opposition, the Hong Kong administration has made no serious effort to adopt such legislation.

Luo comments after Carrie Lam, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong, said her government’s duty was to enact a law prohibiting insults from the national anthem of China. Proceeding with both bills could lead to a reaction from the demonstrators in the city who have proven themselves less often over the last few weeks.

Fresh Sunday protests broke brevity of violent Christmas and New Year’s Holiday demonstrations following a major demonstration in early December. Lam’s attempts to suppress dissenting voices and to pass a bill authorizing Hong Kong extradition to mainland China triggered protests in June that have plunged the urban economy into recession and damaged the global reputation of the financial hub.

Article 23 of the Basic Law–which is sometimes referred to as the mini-constitution of Hong Kong –requires the implementation of legislation on national safety to preclude the theft of secrets of state, sedition and subversion from the Chinese government.