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No More Concessions On Hong Kong Anti-Subversion Law, says Official - 2003-06-28

A Hong Kong official says the government will make no more concessions on its proposed anti-subversion law. The law has prompted a hunger strike and plans for mass protest by local citizens, who fear the law will threaten the territory's liberties.

Despite strong local and international opposition, the Hong Kong government says there will be no more changes to a proposed anti-subversion law, due to be enacted July 9th.

Hong Kong is required by the constitution it adopted after its 1997 handover to China to pass legislation banning treason, sedition, and theft of state secrets.

But democracy activists fear Beijing will use the new law to stifle Hong Kong's basic freedoms under the pretext of national security. Opposition to passage of the law has come from journalists, business groups, the leader of Hong Kong's Catholic Church, the U.S. House of Representatives and others.

On Friday, the University of Hong Kong released a study saying 55 percent of Hong Kong's population opposes the law, while only 16 percent support it. And on Thursday, U.S. lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution urging Hong Kong to drop the law, until Hong Kong has a fully democratic government.

Hong Kong Security Secretary Regina Ip insists the new law will not jeopardize personal freedom. She said Saturday that three months of public consultation have produced 51 amendments, and no others will be considered.

Hong Kong Solicitor-General Robert Allcock insists the law will only cover genuine security threats and will not be used to curb freedom of assembly or expression.

"There's a big difference between a bunch of marchers in the street saying you know, beat down the government, and someone who goes out selling arms and bombs to people, and says, 'let's go attack the building tomorrow and blow it up.' The latter situation may well fall under incitement and sedition," said Robert Allcock.

Hong Kong Democratic Party Chairman Yeung Sum and 10 other people have begun a 100-hour hunger strike, due to end just before a mass protest march scheduled for Tuesday.

Protest organizers tell police they expect as many as 100,000 people to show up for the event, which coincides with the sixth anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is scheduled in Hong Kong Sunday for ceremonies marking the handover anniversary. He is due to leave on Tuesday - just hours before the protest march is scheduled to start.