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Hong Kong Quietly Widens National Security Law With Subtle Shift

Films, charities and other organizations at risk for anything `contrary to’ Hong Kong’s national security interests

The flag of China is flown behind a pair of surveillance cameras outside the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, days after Beijing imposed national security legislation on the city.

The flag of China is flown behind a pair of surveillance cameras outside the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, days after Beijing imposed national security legislation on the city.

Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

Hong Kong has quietly broadened the language it uses to describe national security violations, a shift lawyers said could expand the reach of a government crackdown on dissent in the Asian financial hub.

City authorities have begun using the phrase “contrary to the interests of national security” in recent weeks to define new red lines in the entertainment industry and the tax code. Previously, officials had warned more specifically against anything that might “endanger national security.” The latter term appears 31 times in the full text of the security law, while the “contrary to” phrasing is absent.