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Hong Kong launches tip line for national security crimes

Hong Kong launches tip line for national security crimes
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Hong Kong announced a dedicated tip hotline to report violations of the latest national security legislation, stoking concerns about the global financial center's freedoms.

The Hong Kong Police Force's National Security Department announced the tip line Thursday with the goal of "facilitating members of the public to provide or report national security-related information," according to a police statement obtained by Bloomberg.

The department's police unit was established after the June enactment of national security laws criminalizing subversion, secession, collusion with foreign powers and terrorism.

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Many pro-democracy advocates feared the laws would limit freedoms of speech due to encroachment in the territory by the Chinese Communist Party.

Police said residents would be able to file reports to the new hotline with information such as audio files, videos, or photos and submit them via text, email, or the Chinese social messaging platform WeChat.

The shift to imposing the national security law dramatically weakened ties between Hong Kong and Western democracies, leading several countries to suspend extradition agreements with the city.

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Hong Kong officials and Beijing argued the law was compulsory to restore order and economic stability after some violent pro-democracy protests erupted last summer, pushing the city into a recession.

Though many Western nations' law enforcement agencies offer terrorism tip lines, Hong Kong's national security law also punishes political crimes such as supporting independence or inciting hatred against the government.

Over half of those arrested by the police unit face allegations related to speech deemed secessionist or seditious, such as chanting, online posts, or waving banners.

The national security law has also affected Hong Kong institutions that once protected pro-democracy advocates, as a professor was fired this summer after the law's implementation and pressure from Beijing officials on school administrators.