HONG KONG -- For five years, people in Hong Kong have been worrying about restrictions on their rights and freedoms that could result from laws on treason, secession, sedition and subversion, mandated by the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution.

Fortunately, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region deferred enactment of those laws, which are provided for by Article 23 of the Basic Law, which says in part: "The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central people's Government, or theft of state secrets."

Recently, however, Chinese officials have been impatient and have reminded Hong Kong of its obligation to legislate. Recently, Secretary for Security Regina Ip disclosed that Hong Kong has held consultations with Beijing and both sides have agreed that Article 23 legislation will be passed by next July.