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From London I watch the crisis engulfing my beloved Hong Kong, and I despair

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Nowadays, I have trouble sleeping.

I do everything I can to lull myself into a sedative state: drink chamomile tea, wear an eye mask, take melatonin. Above all, I fight the urge to check my phone. Because as my day ends in London, morning begins in Hong Kong – and at a certain point, I won’t be able to keep from checking the endless news updates from back home; a sort of masochistic ritual that has become second nature after a year of following the city’s protests from afar.

Last night, sleep was impossible. Beijing has just passed a sweeping national security law that will criminalise “secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces”, drastically curbing dissent in Hong Kong. The legislation – which allows mainland Chinese officials to operate in Hong Kong, and in some cases could supersede the local legal system – could pose the most serious threat to the territory’s cherished civil and political freedoms since its handover from Britain to China in 1997.

While it is unclear how these crimes will be defined, who they will affect and what mechanisms protect the rights of those accused, many are concerned the law could be used to prosecute pro-democracy activists, human rights workers, journalists and lawyers, the way similar laws have been used to target their counterparts in the mainland. Although Hong Kong’s mini-constitution requires it to enact a national security law, residents are fiercely protective of the rights they enjoy under the city’s separate........

© The Guardian