The Australian government has advised its citizens not to travel to Hong Kong and to rethink their need to stay in Hong Kong due to the uncertainties surrounding the new national security law.
"The new national security legislation for Hong Kong could be broadly interpreted. The law could expel you or expose you to mainland China for criminal prosecution under mainland law," a foreign ministry official said on Thursday Smartraveller's website from Trade.
It added that the full scope of the law and its application is not yet clear, and that Australians "for vaguely defined reasons of national security could face an increased risk of detention. They could break the law without intending to."
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. The new law came into force last Tuesday after the top decision-making body in the Chinese parliament voted for approval.
The city has seen months of democracy-friendly demonstrations that have sometimes turned violent. According to Beijing, the Hong Kong national security law aims to ban secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities and foreign interference.
Opponents of the law, including Britain's Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, say that this undermines the autonomy of Hong Kong that was promised when the Special Administrative Region was handed over to China in 1997.
Under the One Country, Two Systems policy, the area has a largely separate legal and economic system from the mainland, reflecting its British colonial heritage. This framework – known as the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China – is to apply until 2047.
Australians have been banned from traveling overseas since March – unless they get an exception due to the coronavirus pandemic.