Britain offers passport holders in Hong Kong visa-free travel

Marco Green
May 29, 2020

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China's parliament approved a decision to go forward with national security legislation for Hong Kong that democracy activists in the city and some other countries fear could erode its freedoms and jeopardise its role as a global financial hub.

The plan to enact the national security legislation was first announced in Beijing late last week, with Chinese officials saying it was needed to stem sometimes-violent protests that hit the city past year.

Top members of the USA administration have warned that Hong Kong no longer merits a special status when it comes trade, and the territory could be treated the same way as mainland China.

Because of the new laws, Mr Pompeo said on Wednesday Hong Kong no longer qualified for special treatment under U.S. law, potentially dealing a crushing blow to its status as a major financial hub.

But neither Pompeo nor other officials were able Wednesday to describe what action the administration might take, an uncertainty related to the impact that such sanctions would have on USA companies that operate in Hong Kong and the city's position as Asia's major financial hub.

Riot police out in force against protests earlier this week.

Of course, it would be exceedingly odd for the president to ignore the determination of his own secretary of state.

A flag-raising ceremony is held at Golden Bauhinia Square to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China in Hong Kong, south China, July 1, 2018. "While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modelling Hong Kong after itself". U.S. politicians such as Pompeo arrogantly believe that Hong Kong's destiny is in their hands.

Led by the USA, several countries in the world have blamed China for the spread of coronavirus and its failure to provide timely information about the disease, leading to the death of over three lakh people and causing an unprecedented economic crisis. Now, it is seriously ill. Such protests would fall under the category of secessionist activities and subversion of state power under the new law.

The Communist Party of China has moved swiftly to pass its new national security law on Hong Kong, just a week after it suddenly revealed its plans to impose such a policy, sparking new mass protests and widespread condemnation.

China made the security law a priority at its annual NPC session, after huge pro-democracy protests rocked the financial hub for seven months a year ago.

China is rock-firm in implementing "One Country, Two Systems" and enacting national security legislation for Hong Kong. The relevant Hong Kong Policy Act language makes it clear that it is the "President's determination" (not the secretary's) as to whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous, and the "President may" suspend Hong Kong's special status under USA law (emphasis added).

The US Department of State said in a report on Thursday it could "no longer certify that Hong Kong continues to warrant (differential) treatment" from Beijing. The president, in other words, retains the final call on whether or not to take action to alter Hong Kong's status under US law, irrespective of the secretary's certification.

Foreign minister Dominic Raab spoke to his USA counterpart Mike Pompeo about the matter late on Wednesday.

Premier Li Keqiang, China's No. 2 leader, defended the law as consistent with Beijing's promises.

A number of organizations in the US supported China's new national security law in Hong Kong on Thursday.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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