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Nearly 600,000 overseas Chinese signed an online petition to support the proposed national security legislation for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

As of 11 pm on Monday, 593,797 overseas Chinese from about 160 associations had signed the petition endorsing the law, which is being deliberated by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.

Wong Cho-kei, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Overseas Chinese General Associations, one of the groups joining the campaign, said last year's social unrest in Hong Kong worried a lot of association members living abroad.

They would never want to see "the Pearl of the Orient" lose its advantage as a springboard that connects China with the rest of the world, Wong added.

They regard the national security law as a lifeline for Hong Kong, and they hope it can create a stable social environment and maintain the city's status, Wong said.

Chan Chun-keung, president of the Hong Kong Overseas Chinese Association, another group on the petition, said the majority of his members were born abroad and came to Hong Kong to seek opportunities.

During their decades here, they witnessed Hong Kong's rapid development after its return to the motherland. They were upset to see the protest violence halt that development, and even imperil the city's future, Chan said.

The members believe the national security law could effectively deter violence and restart the city's development.

Chan, who is an Indonesian-born Chinese, said the proposed law has received positive responses from Chinese communities in Indonesia, another economy suffering from massive unrest last year.

A protest erupted in Jakarta on May 21, nearly one month after Indonesia's presidential election. Radical protesters attacked police officers and burned vehicles. The incident led to several deaths and injured hundreds of people.

Indonesian-based Chinese felt solidarity with Hong Kong people, and realized that stability is the most valuable treasure of a society, Chan said.

Lu Wenduan, vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Overseas Chinese Federations, said that China's development and interests have always pulled at the heartstrings of overseas nationals, given their deep affection for the motherland. It's understandable that the proposed law for Hong Kong, which is expected to plug the loophole in the country's national security protection mechanism, has won so much support among them, he said.

On May 28, just days after a draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the SAR to safeguard national security was submitted to NPC, more than 630 overseas Chinese groups voiced support for the move in a joint statement published in local newspapers.