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

Andrew Cummings
May 22, 2020

Also on Thursday, China announced plans to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong after last year's pro-democracy protests.

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. 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.

"If China moves forward and takes strong action under this new national security law against the people of Hong Kong, America will respond".

The move comes as tensions between Beijing and Washington are becoming increasingly strained over the coronavirus pandemic, trade and Hong Kong. The Trump administration has foisted blame on China for failing to be sufficiently transparent at the outset of the deadly. virus.

"We are going to see people going back in the streets in Hong Kong, both big demonstrations and smaller demonstrations - which will be met by police with full force - and violence re-erupting in Hong Kong", said Tsang. In the communique of a key Communist party meeting in November, the Fourth Plenum, Beijing told the city to "perfect" its legal system to safeguard national security.

It has observed a "one country, two systems" policy since Britain returned sovereignty in 1997, which has allowed it certain freedoms the rest of China does not have.


That second method appears likely, in what some activists have described as "the end" of Hong Kong's legal autonomy.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam, who is seen as part of the pro-Beijing political establishment, said the law would help authorities tackle illegal activity in the city.

Laws that harm democracy, human rights and Hong Kong's freedom under the guise of national security will increase societal instability and heighten risks for worldwide citizens in the city, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said in an emailed statement.

"Given that the protests and their intensity have been driven by Beijing's erosion of promised freedoms, Beijing's direct imposition of a security law would clearly enflame the population", said Victoria Tin-bor Hui, an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame who has been following the protests.

President Donald Trump has said the U.S. would react strongly if China followed through with its proposals, without giving details, the BBC reported.

What is Hong Kong's legal situation?

Some have described the proposed anti-sedition law as a "mark of desperation" after nearly a year of not being able to halt the protests.


The foreign ministry's office in Hong Kong earlier issued a separate statement saying the security legislation would target only a small number of people who are endangering national security. Up to now, the worst charge most arrested protesters have faced has been for rioting.

While the seven-month-long agitation past year in which millions took part subsided during the coronavirus crisis from January to April, protestors returned to streets this month, with the pro-autonomy and pro-freedom legislators grappling with the security officials in local legislature protesting against the curbs.

But the clause has never been implemented due to fears it would destroy Hong Kong's cherished civil rights.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed to China in 1997 and has been governed by a system that guaranteed freedoms, such as freedom of speech and free elections, that are not allowed on mainland China.

This was enshrined in the Basic Law, which runs out in 2047.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement: "We urge Beijing to honor its commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration".


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