Hong Kong: Pompeo condemns China’s law as ‘death knell’ for freedoms

Marco Green
May 23, 2020

The report highlights how four decades of USA government policy of engagement with Beijing, dating back to the administration of President Richard Nixon, has failed to encourage China's government to be a responsible stakeholder in the global community. Boris Johnson's spokesman said: "We are monitoring the situation closely and expect China to respect Hong Kong's rights and freedoms and high degree of autonomy". These freedoms make Hong Kong unique from Mainland Chinese cities.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Martin Liao said that Hong Kong had "legal obligations" to introduce national security legislation and that, since 23 years had passed since the handover from Britain, now was a "proper time to deal with this".

Officers will be deployed around Hong Kong on Sunday at locations where marches are due to take place and will arrest demonstrators if necessary, according to a post on the police Facebook page.

Hong Kong's autonomy was guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" agreement enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

It "seems to be increasingly the case that Beijing can treat and interpret the Basic Law in whatever way it likes", he continues. "We don't. So it's not surprising that as part of the efforts to fill the national security legal gap, we need to have a body", he said in an interview with Reuters. At times, the protests led to violence between police and protesters a year ago.

The NPC decision also raises concerns because article 18 of the Basic Law states that such insertion of Chinese national legislation into Annex III "shall be confined to those relating to defense and foreign affairs as well as other matters outside the limits of the autonomy of the Region". Tighter security measures from Beijing would increase China's authority over Hong Kong. Article 4 may prove the most controversial. He said the proposed legislation was to stop possible security threats.

The law is seen as a response to Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests which began last June, with Beijing targeting what it calls terrorism, independence, subversion of state power and foreign interference.

Beijing has defended its draft bill, which it say's protects Hong Kong's interests.

As 2,897 representatives from across China gathered in the Great Hall of the People for the annual Chinese National People's Congress on Friday, the first point of order was not the seemingly all-consuming topic of the coronavirus pandemic.

As local commentators have suggested: "There will be more Liu Xiaobo not only in China, but also Hong Kong".

As the law has not even been drafted yet, it is hard to be concrete, but essentially people in Hong Kong fear the loss of their civil liberties.

A state-controlled news agency accused the city's pro-democracy opposition of having "schemed with external forces in attempts to create a "colour revolution".

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told CNN the administration is "studying very closely" the possibility of imposing additional tariffs against China for their actions against Hong Kong.

"This is nearly like a nuclear option, which once you use it, everyone will get hurt, and it will be very hard to build Hong Kong back up again", Kwok told the conservative Heritage Foundation by videoconference.

The provisions of the United Nations covenants on human rights also remain in force under the joint declaration.

"What we are seeing is a new Chinese dictatorship", said Patten, a former chair of the Conservative party and cabinet member under Thatcher and her successor, John Major.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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