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Hong kong subversion law

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Hong Kong opposition leader takes fight against anti-subversion law overseas
Mon Oct 28, 6:11 AM ET
By ELAINE KURTENBACH, Associated Press Writer

HONG KONG - Opposition leader Martin Lee said Monday that he and others fighting a proposed anti-subversion law will appeal to Britain, European bodies, and possibly the United Nations (news - web sites), to dissuade Hong Kong from passing it.

Lee, an attorney and lawmaker who heads the Democratic Party, said he took heart from U.S. President George W. Bush (news - web sites)'s mention of the need to preserve the rights of Hong Kong citizens during his summit last week with Chinese President Jiang Zemin (news - web sites).

It was unclear whether Bush specifically mentioned the proposed law against treason and subversion during his meeting with Jiang.

Lee plans to take his message to Britain, the European Parliament and European Commission (news - web sites) next month. He said he was considering an appeal to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

Constitutionally required to enact laws prohibiting serious crimes against the state, the Hong Kong government announced the proposed law last month and hopes to enact it by July.

The proposed law would give police broader investigative powers, tighten rules on state secrets and set harsher penalties for serious crimes against the state. The maximum penalty would be life imprisonment.

Opponents fear the law could be used to suppress groups expressing views that irritate the Hong Kong government, or the leadership in Beijing, eroding Western-style freedoms left intact when this former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

Government officials say Hong Kong's court system would prevent abuses.

"I think the whole world ought to know what is happening to Hong Kong," Lee told reporters after returning from a U.S. visit aimed at raising awareness about the controversy.

He said U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice was "extremely receptive" during their meeting, although he was not certain what message she would convey to Bush.

Hong Kong's security secretary, Regina Ip, on Monday derided Lee's campaign against the law as a "futile effort," the government-owned radio station RTHK reported.

Ip was jeered by students Monday when she told a university gathering that most Hong Kong residents support the proposed law. Academics, the news media, lawyers, church groups and non-governmental organizations are among the most vocal critics of the anti-subversion law.

Lee said the government should not have begun drafting the legislation barely a month after the three-month public consultation began. He said the move showed Beijing was pushing for quick enactment, despite its promise to respect the territory's status as a "special administrative region," or SAR, with its own legal system.

"Does it not suggest the consultation process is a sham?" Lee said. "I am reluctantly driven to the conclusion that this is not the Hong Kong SAR legislating on its own. This is Beijing pushing for something many people do not want to see."

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