USA says China security law a 'death knell' for Hong Kong autonomy

Marco Green
May 23, 2020

He warned that if the legislation is passed in the territory, "Hong Kong police or secret agents can use this to arrest people or prosecute people or even extradite Hong Kongers from Hong Kong to China".

The new law would enforce punishment for "subversion" and other perceived offenses in the city, which was swept by months of massive and occasionally violent pro-democracy protests previous year.

Now, new legislation is in the works that promises to make that crisis much worse.

Following China's decision to introduce a national security law to crush dissent in Hong Kong, Sunflower Movement leader Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) on Friday (May 22) proposed to form an worldwide humanitarian team to support the former British territory's democracy activists. Beijing has said such measures are "absolutely necessary" for stopping the protests and restoring order.

"For many in Hong Kong, the NPC enacting for Hong Kong will be tantamount to the effective end of the "one country, two systems" model, " Tsang said. She added that attempts to limit human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong would affect "the United States' current treatment of Hong Kong". Over the past year, charges of rioting, illegal assembly, public obstruction among others have failed to dent the demonstrations.

Michael Davis, a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and former law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said Beijing's imposition of the national security law "clearly flies in the face of the Basic Law".

If that status changes, however, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act allows the United States to unilaterally revoke those privileges.

The latest security law for Hong Kong is seen as a major blow to the city's democratic freedoms.

Zhang Yesui said the National People's Congress would deliberate a bill on "establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security". It could also attract younger immigrants by extending refugee status to people born in Hong Kong after 1997 who also hold a Hong Kong passport.

China has taken on the BBC, after cutting the live feed of its BBC World TV Service during its reporting on the new Hong Kong legislation.

In Washington, where President Donald Trump and his top national security officials have been increasingly critical of China for both its response to the coronavirus pandemic and actions in Hong Kong, the State Department said such a move would "undermine the PRC's commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration". It is also a way for China to send a message to the United States, which is debating whether to continue granting Hong Kong special trade status under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, passed a year ago to pressure Beijing into respecting the city's rights.

Many said the move was a wake-up call that provided fresh impetus for the year-old anti-government movement that has largely stalled amid the COVID-19 pandemic and authorities' intensifying clampdown. "I find it hard to believe this will not trigger either a massive peaceful and orderly demonstration or more vocal and aggressive protests..."

China's foreign ministry said: "The Chinese government is determined in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests, following through the policy of 'one country, two systems, ' and opposing any external interference in Hong Kong affairs". But we have this law this year, and it will be a turning point.

One part that's caused particular concern is a suggestion that China could set up institutions in Hong Kong that are responsible for defending national security. He called on all "allies from around the world to support Hong people against the national security law that erodes our basic and fundamental freedom".

Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker in Hong Kong, told a US-based audience on Friday that the territory's opposition forces appreciated U.S. efforts and urged continued vigilance, voicing fear for police crackdowns in the coming days. "It's going to be a very hot summer".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article