Hong Kong leader John Lee on Tuesday unveiled details of proposed security legislation intended to supplement the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020.

The legislation will cover treason and theft of state secrets, which are not covered under the national security law. The new law will prohibit foreign groups from conducting political activities and local organizations from establishing ties with them, a move designed to further crack down on dissent in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government first proposed the legislation in 2003, called for under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution. But it was forced to shelve the bill as over 500,000 people took to the streets to protest against it.

Hong Kong leader John Lee (C) holds a news conference in Hong Kong on Jan. 30, 2024. (Photo courtesy of the Hong Kong government)(Kyodo)

Lee said at a press conference that the government needs to defend the city from "potential sabotage."

"Legislation for Article 23 of the Basic Law is something that we need...and have to do as soon as possible, because it is our constitutional responsibility," the leader said.

Lee and government officials elaborated on criminal acts outlined in the new law, including cyber sabotage carried out to endanger national security.

The current national security law took effect in June 2020 following anti-government protests in 2019. It criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, but not treason or theft of state secrets.

Under the sweeping national security law, dozens of pro-democracy activists, lawmakers and journalists have been charged.

After soliciting public opinion until Feb. 28, the government aims to enact the law during the current session of the Legislative Council meeting, which will finish at the end of July, according to local media reports.

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