China has passed the controversial National Security Act for Hong Kong

China has passed the controversial National Security Act for Hong Kong
China has passed the controversial National Security Act for Hong Kong

China's legislature passed a proposal to implement a highly controversial national security law in Hong Kong in an unprecedented move, with critics saying fundamental political freedoms and civil liberties are threatened in the semi-autonomous region.

The country's parliament, the National People's Congress (APN), on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal to introduce security legislation that allows secularism, subversion of state power, terrorism, foreign intervention and agencies to protect the Chinese mainland's security forces. Work in the city.

Only one representative voted against the motion, while 2,878 voted in favor and six.

Now approved, the APN Standing Committee will draft the legislation, a process that is expected to take about two months. It would then be implemented after the Hong Kong Government Act, rarely bypassing the city legislature through a constitutional gate.

The law would dramatically expand Beijing's power over Hong Kong, hit by anti-government demonstrations last year demanding more democracy and more autonomy from mainland China.

Last week news of the proposal met with immediate resistance in the city, with protesters taking to the streets to confront the police. The passage of the law is expected to result in more major protests, with protesting leaders vowing to oppose further influence of the Chinese government at any cost.

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said on Thursday after parliamentary meetings that the law was designed for the continued implementation of "one country, two systems', a formula that guarantees Hong Kong its autonomy and independence, and" Hong Kong's For long term prosperity and stability ".

But he has failed to reassure critics. The move has been condemned internationally, with opponents warning it could dilute many of the city's legal guarantees when it was promised that it was handed over to China from British rule in 1997.

Pro-democracy legislator Claudia Moe said the decision was "the beginning of a sad and painful era for Hong Kong."

He said, "They have practically stripped our souls. Our souls have been ruling us all these years, taking away the rule of law, human rights, all the fundamental values ​​that we know."

"From now on, Hong Kong is just one more city in mainland China."

special conditions

Following protests in the city on Wednesday in which about 300 people were arrested, United States Secretary Mike Pompeo said his country would no longer regard the Global Financial Center as China's autonomy for commercial and economic purposes.

In a statement, Pompeo described the law as a "disastrous decision" and "the latest in a series of actions that undermine Hong Kong's autonomy and independence."

"No reasonable person today can claim that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China," Pompeo said.

Under Hong Kong's Democracy and Human Rights Act, passed last year in support of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests that lasted months, the United States government must annually verify to Congress that the city remains autonomous from China, Or runs the risk of losing its special status with the United States. .

Hong Kong's special economic and trade situation with the United States exempts Washington's import duties and export controls over mainland China.

It is not immediately clear what results the Pompeo announcement will bring. Hong Kong has long served as a regional hub for many international companies, as well as a springboard for Chinese companies to expand internationally.

The United States Consulate General in Hong Kong says it represents more than 1,200 American companies that do business there; There are more than 800 regional offices or headquarters.

A congressional aide told CNN that certification does not automatically trigger action and that President Donald Trump of the United States will determine the next steps.

David Stillwell, a top US diplomat in the Office of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said officials were exploring options "across the spectrum", including visas or economic sanctions.

American experts say the results could be very broad, such as ending the extradition treaty between the United States and Hong Kong.

Beijing infiltrates

Following disputes over the coronovirus epidemic and a distracting trade war, the US declaration is likely to angered Beijing and affect relations between the two sides.

The Chinese government has not yet responded to Pompeo's statement, which was released after midnight Beijing time. But the country's foreign ministry had earlier promised to respond to any "external interference".

Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday, "Hong Kong's National Security Defense Act is purely an internal China case that does not allow foreign intervention." For the law.

"In response to the wrong practices of external intervention, we will take the necessary response," Zhao said.

The editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a government-controlled nationalist tabloid, stormed out in Washington on Thursday, accusing him of being "too intoxicated" thinking it could "hold Hong Kong's fate in its hands."

The only card in American hands is Hong Kong's special tariff status, and it has been intensively studied by the Chinese. If Washington wants to play this card, let it play ... Hong Kong is the source of America's largest trade surplus, in which 85,000 US citizens live. Let us see how the United States will swallow the bitter fruits of the repeal of Hong Kong's special tariff status, ”Hu Xijin wrote in a challenging post on Weibo.

According to the Government of Hong Kong, USA. The US had a US $ 31.1 billion surplus on trade in Hong Kong in 2018, the only economy with the US having the largest trade surplus in the US.

"The biggest pillar for Hong Kong to remain an international financial center is its special relationship with mainland China's great economy ... China's strength determines that there should be an international financial center on our coast, and that That would be where the Chinese people want it, ”Hu said in Weibo Post.

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