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Beijing Officials Review Hong Kong's Controversial Security Laws


Beijing has sent a team of officials to Hong Kong to study the political situation after another mass rally against proposed controversial security laws. Critics say the proposed laws threaten civil liberties. The issue has created a political crisis in the city.

A pro-Beijing politician says China sent the officials to review a political crisis precipitated by the proposed security legislation.

A Hong Kong deputy to China's top lawmaking body, Ma Lik, said the officials are seeking opinions from different segments of the community on the issue.

Mr. Ma also says that some of his fellow deputies want Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa to step down.

The NPC delegates in Hong Kong do not have a collective decision. Of course, they are divided, their opinions are divided. Some ask him to step down, but I think the majority still supports Tung," he said.

In the second protest in just over a week, tens-of-thousands of demonstrators on Wednesday night surrounded Hong Kong's legislature.

They called on the government to drop the proposed laws, which carry heavy penalties for subversion, sedition, treason and theft of state secrets. Many fear the laws could be abused and would curtail civil liberties.

Mr. Tung also came under fire Wednesday, as protesters denounced the leader as incompetent. Opposition lawmakers, dissatisfied with his handling of the legislation, have repeatedly called for Mr. Tung's dismissal.

Mr. Tung was politically weakened when the head of a pro-government political party resigned from the Cabinet earlier this week, citing differences in opinion with the leader.

Beijing says the laws are necessary for national security.

Wednesday's peaceful protest was originally planned to coincide with a final legislative vote on the laws.

But the administration delayed the bill's passage indefinitely, after an estimated half-million people last week marched against the laws.

Hong Kong, which reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, following 150 year under British rule, maintains a separate legal, economic and administrative systems from mainland China. It also enjoys freedoms not allowed on the mainland.