Friday, 05 June, 2020


Outrage in Hong Kong as China pushes security law

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo steps away from the podium following a news conference at the State Department Secretary of State Mike Pompeo steps away from the podium following a news conference at the State Department
Conrad Doyle | 22 May, 2020, 22:51

"The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its global obligations, and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties", Mr Pompeo said in a statement on Friday.

Hong Kong is what is known as a "special administrative region" of China.

"Given that the protests and their intensity have been driven by Beijing's erosion of promised freedoms, Beijing's direct imposition of a security law would clearly enflame the population", said Victoria Tin-bor Hui, an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame who has been following the protests. The conflict was clear to anyone following this gambit: Either China had to become more like Hong Kong, or Hong Kong had to become more like China.

He added: "Any effort to impose national security legislation that does not reflect the will of the people of Hong Kong would be highly destabilizing, and would be met with strong condemnation from the United States and the global community".

Once the new law passes, it's goodbye freedom of the press, and freedom generally.

"This is the end of Hong Kong".

For pro-democracy lawmaker Tanya Chan, the proposal goes against the Basic Law.

"The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its worldwide obligations, and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties, which are key to preserving its special status under USA law", he said.

The US is now considering whether to extend Hong Kong's preferential trading and investment privileges.

President Donald Trump gave a vague initial response that nevertheless warned of a stronger reaction.

Beijing tried to introduce a similar law in 2003 but shelved the initiative due to mass protests.

The foreign ministry's office in Hong Kong earlier issued a separate statement saying the security legislation would target only a small number of people who are endangering national security.

But critics point to what they say are ambiguities inherent in such a law and the broad, generalist framework it would bring to a place which has a very different legal tradition than the communist-controlled mainland.

The notion of "terrorism" also features in this proposed law. "I find it hard to believe this will not trigger either a massive peaceful and orderly demonstration or more vocal and aggressive protests..." That too could encompass wide-ranging acts and activities that the authoritarian rulers on the mainland consider far more menacing than those in Hong Kong, or for that matter elsewhere.

The NPC is expected to vote on the draft law at the end of its annual session, on 28 May.

The United States cannot stop China from doing this, but it can fight back.

The millions-strong, often violent protests a year ago sparked by a controversial extradition law shocked the Chinese leadership and in recent months, Chinese officials have unequivocally ordered the city to enact legislation to bar subversion, separatism, and foreign interference to plug the national security "loopholes" that threaten the country's stability. "It proves that "one country, two systems" has been completely repealed", said Biyanca Chu, 23, a protester, who was among many shocked by the announcement.

Beijing may also fear September's elections to Hong Kong's legislature.

Hong Kong was under British control for more than 150 years up to 1997.

The Government also wants to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities in Hong Kong or having links with overseas bodies. Wang Chen, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, said since the return of Hong Kong, China has been firmly implementing the principles of "one country, two systems", "the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong", and a high degree of autonomy.

DW correspondent Phoebe Kong tweeted that the security law was "listed under annex 3 of basic law, bypassing scrutiny of the local legislature".

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