Pompeo condemns China's proposed Hong Kong national security law

Pompeo condemns China's proposed Hong Kong national security law”

On internet threads and chat apps used by the pro-democracy movement, there were calls to resume the protests of previous year that were largely subdued in recent months because of coronavirus restrictions. Demonstrators marched on the city's legislature and scuffles broke out between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing lawmakers. They shouted "National security law ruins Hong Kong!". A protest movement was born and for months the city was engulfed in violent street battles, in what has been described as Hong Kong's worst crisis since the 1997 handover of the former British colony to Chinese control.

Following China's announcement on the law, two senators, Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Chris Van Hollen, proposed a law that would impose sanctions on anyone involved in curtailing Hong Kong's autonomy, including banks.

The proposed bill, submitted on Friday's opening day of China's national legislative session, would forbid secessionist and subversive activity, as well as foreign interference and terrorism.

Those protests captured the world's attention a year ago.

In an interview with DW News hours later, prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong said Beijing had "totally violated procedural justice".

Friday's statement from Pompeo, the top U.S. diplomat, went further than the State Department's warning to China a day earlier and showed how rapidly the world has reacted to news that Beijing is set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong, despite last year's pro-democracy protests in the territory.

Pro-democracy activists fear that China pushing through the law could mean "the end of Hong Kong" - that is, the effective end of its autonomy and these freedoms. I don't know what will happen to the media. If these measures are passed, Hong Kong's separate political status will be a mere fig leaf covering the reality of Communist despotism.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday condemned China's effort to take over national security legislation in Hong Kong, calling it "a death knell for the high degree of autonomy" that Beijing had promised the territory. It also provides that rights and freedoms, including those of the person, of the press, of assembly, of association and others, will be ensured by law in Hong Kong, and that the provisions of the two United Nations covenants on human rights (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) shall remain in force. This increases the possibility of Chinese security forces on the streets of Hong Kong.

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Mr Pompeo's intervention is likely to infuriate the Chinese government, whose relations with the USA have been strained recently by disputes over trade and the coronavirus pandemic.

Responding to previous statements by the US, China has accused Pompeo of "blackmailing" the Hong Kong government with the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and interferring in China's internal affairs. Canada has announced $1.2-billion for COVID-19 research.

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

Yet the move also comes from a position of vulnerability for the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, who disappeared from public view during the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in China and has been under scrutiny over what he knew about the virus and when.

Beijing tried to introduce a similar law in 2003 but shelved the initiative due to mass protests. If Hong Kongers could benefit without the party's control, why couldn't the rest of China?

Observers believe the immediate effect of the law is likely to be more unrest.

The violence associated with the disturbances arising from the legislative exercise of the Fugitive Offenders Bill since last June has been escalating and the emergence of various incidents involving explosives and firearms has posed the risk of terrorism, seriously jeopardizing public safety, said the members, who are now in Beijing for the Two Sessions.

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