What is Hong Kong's national security law that is used to detain minors?

Dristi Sharma
Dristi SharmaOct 10, 2022 | 14:05

What is Hong Kong's national security law that is used to detain minors?

In the past, the Chinese government has used several methods to suppress protests against it and has been criticised by many countries and human rights organisations. However, in a first, the government has used its national security law to detain and sentence five teenagers. 

How are these minors being punished? The judge who heard this case of the teenagers gave his statement saying that the minors should be sent to detention in a training centre and called out that anyone who tries to overthrow the Chinese government must be met with deterrence. 


What was their 'crime'? The five teenagers were members of Returning Valiant, a pro-Hong Kong independence group. However, looking at their age, Judge Kwok Wai-kin gave them detention and not jail. 

Also note that the years of detention can be increased if the authorities want.

Since 2020: Beijing introduced this vague, wide-ranging law which made it easier to prosecute protesters. Since then, the government has jailed many people who have said anything against the Chinese government, hence removing any opposition. According to a research paper published by ChinaFile, at least 110 people have been arrested under the national security law.

Those arrested included: 

  • Protesters
  • Activists
  • Former opposition lawmakers

What is this law all about? On 30th June 2020, the Chinese government unanimously passed a national security law for Hong Kong which came to force the same day. The law is made vague which has made it very easy for the government to broaden the spectrum of arresting people as they want. 


Here are some things that the law criminalises and anyone found guilty can be charged with life imprisonment:

  1. Secession - breaking away from the country
  2. Subversion - undermining the power or authority of the central government
  3. Terrorism - using violence or intimidation against people
  4. Collusion with foreign or external forces 

Apart from this, people can be arrested for possessing flags, stickers, t-shirts, white sheets of paper and banners with political slogans. 

Photo: Demonstrators hold blank signs during a lunchtime protest at a shopping mall in Hong Kong.

Amnesty International reported that two days after the law was passed, the government declared that "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times", a common political slogan during last year's protests, "connotes 'Hong Kong independence", or separating Hong Kong from China, and effectively forbade its use.

What else? 

  • People could be taken to mainland China for closed doors trails
  • Damaging public transport facilities can be considered terrorism
  • People suspected of breaking the law can be wire-tapped and put under surveillance
  • The law applies to anyone on the planet 

When the law came into effect, there were protests all over Hong Kong. It was also called the 'end of Hong Kong" by some critics.

Last updated: October 10, 2022 | 14:06
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