China's National People's Congress Standing Committee unanimously approved a security bill Tuesday that will give Beijing authority to crack down on political dissent in Hong Kong, which has enjoyed significant legal and civil autonomy since being handed over by Britain in 1997, The New York Times and Chinese media report. The U.S., Britain, and European Union have criticized the law and the U.S. placed limits on exports of U.S. defense equipment and some technology, stripping some of Hong Kong's special trade status. The new law, which will allow the Communist Party central government to set up a security apparatus in Hong Kong to collect intelligence and investigate special national security cases, is not popular in Hong Kong, and critics warn it will be used to quash protests and other dissent directly and through intimidation.

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