China will discuss a national security law tailor-made for Hong Kong at its upcoming parliament, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday, in a move that would further antagonize pro-democracy protesters in the territory.
Earlier in the day, Hong Kong media reported the law, which could be pushed through at the National People's Congress starting Friday, will outlaw acts of separation, sedition, foreign interference and terrorism in the city.
If the law is enforced, even people in Hong Kong who criticize the Communist-led Chinese government may be accused of secession, foreign affairs experts say.
The South China Morning Post quoted sources as saying that Beijing had concluded that Hong Kong's legislature could not pass a national security law given the political climate.
An attempt to enact a national security bill in 2003 failed after an estimated half a million people took to the streets in protest. The government withdrew the bill, and no administration since that time has resumed the legislative process.
Reports of Beijing's decision come as Hong Kong's delegates to China's political advisory body and deputies to its legislature are meeting in Beijing for the annual sessions, which were postponed from the usual March starting date due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The SCMP report said the details of China's plan will be presented to the National People's Congress on Friday and will be put to a vote on May 28.
Under the "one country, two systems" framework, Hong Kong was promised it would enjoy the rights and freedoms of a semi-autonomous region following the former British colony's return to Chinese rule in 1997.
Public anger, however, has been growing in the territory for years over Beijing's apparent endeavor to undermine its freedoms, especially since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, pundits say.
Last year, large-scale protests against the mainland government repeatedly erupted in Hong Kong.