Hong Kongers march in silent protest against national security laws
Hong Kongers march in silent protest against national security laws
Trump administration imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials
29 June, 2020, 15:55
The move on Friday comes ahead of a three-day meeting of China's parliament from Sunday, which is expected to enact new national security legislation for Hong Kong that has alarmed foreign governments and democracy activists.
The Communist Party leadership says the national security law is needed to end political unrest after the city was rocked by months of anti-Beijing protests previous year, but critics fear the law would smother the financial hub's treasured freedoms.
Hong Kong has endured more than a year of protests, which started when the territory's government attempted to pass a bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam listens to reporters' questions during a press conference in Hong Kong, Tuesday, June 23, 2020.
"The authorities' assertion that the national security law will only affect a tiny minority is hardly reassuring when the law includes repressive measures that could be used to target literally anyone the government chooses", said Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty International's China Team. "We must stand up and strike down all those people who deprive Hong Kong people's freedom". He said Hong Kong elections due in September would show China's intentions.
"Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of liberty", the spokesman said.
Beijing's proposal to establish "a secretive national security agency simply creates more tools to crack down on human rights and risks turning the city into a police state", he said. The law would give Beijing authority to handle criminal cases and decide how to interpret the law in the region. This is consistent with the Chinese regime's propaganda about ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, portraying them as unrest incited by foreign governments.
"Up to now the U.S. government has not imposed any sanctions on Hong Kong or the mainland because it's also concerned about counter sanctions from Beijing", said Lau, who described United States politicians' remarks targeting China's Hong Kong policy as "empty rhetoric and empty threats".
The visa restrictions against the officials and their relatives came a day after the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would place mandatory sanctions on Chinese officials who chip away at Hong Kong's autonomy and secondary sanctions on the banks and companies that do business with them.
Similarly, the Chinese embassy in the United States slammed the US visa restrictions as a "wrongful decision" in a statement issued on Saturday.
"Today, I am announcing visa restrictions on current and former CCP officials who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, as guaranteed in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, or undermining human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong".
"We urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistakes, withdraw the decisions and stop interfering in China's domestic affairs", she said.
The proposals foresee the ultimate creation of a Palestinian state on the remaining West Bank territory and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority, a separate administration based in the West Bank, cut its cooperation with Israel last month.
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