Tuesday, 02 June, 2020

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

China introduces new security bill in parliament to tighten controls over Hong Kong Chris Patten: UK should tell China this is outrageous
Ginger Lawrence | 23 May, 2020, 01:24

A revocation of the special status would cause problems for the more than 1,300 American companies with business operations in Hong Kong, including almost every major US financial firm.

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

China's ruling Community Party has moved to introduce a controversial national security law in Hong Kong, which will criminalise "treason, secession, sedition and subversion" against the central government.

Li had said in a government work report a year ago that the two territories' governments and chief executives had Beijing's "full support in exercising law-based governance".

"If China is so stupid as to believe that they can do away with Hong Kong and they don't need an worldwide financial center, then of course there's nothing which one could do to dissuade them to do otherwise", he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing on Friday that no other nation would allow separatists to threaten national unity, after the USA criticized the proposed national security legislation. Over the past year, charges of rioting, illegal assembly, public obstruction among others have failed to dent the demonstrations.

More importantly, it will likely allow Beijing to bypass LegCo if it chooses to, declaring that the NPC's Standing Committee "is authorised to draft laws related to the establishment and completion of. the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the preservation of national security".

"We are deeply concerned at proposals for introducing legislation related to national security in Hong Kong", reads the statement.

Twenty-three years after Hong Kong was handed by Britain back to Chinese rule, Beijing is calling time on efforts to use persuasion to politically win the hearts and minds of Hong Kongers. "I know this is the end of Hong Kong, but it's also the beginning of the Hong Kong people".

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

China has launched one of its fiercest assaults on Hong Kong's treasured autonomy with its move to impose a security law, pro-democracy campaigners said Friday as they vowed to take to the streets in protest.

"Many people have felt discouraged and helpless, while feeling there was nothing they could do except to watch Hong Kong die, then this national security law came along and our fighting spirit has returned!" said another post.

That could include police cracking down on demonstrators and Chinese officials involved in Hong Kong policy - as well as banks that conduct transactions with anyone involved in curbing the territory's freedoms.

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".

It also requires the State Department to confirm annually that the territory retains enough independence to justify favorable trading terms with the U.S. Beijing has consistently decried U.S. support for the protesters. Neither he nor Pompeo detailed actions Washington might take.

But the move allows Chinese President Xi Jinping to distract from a multitude of domestic troubles. But we have this law this year, and it will be a turning point. Hong Kong's investment in the United States rose $3.5 billion in 2018 to $16.9 billion.

And with the US unlikely to respond in any physical way other than to verbally condemn the actions, "For those in Taiwan counting on the U.S.to defend them, Xi wants this law to make them think twice", Hass said.

"The very real threat now is the return of mass protests to the streets of Hong Kong, a downgrade in trade status with the United States and potentially an exit of large companies from the SAR", said OANDA's Jeffrey Halley.