Hong Kong security law 'needed to tackle terrorism'

Cheryl Sanders
May 25, 2020

A backlash intensified on Saturday as almost 200 political figures from around the world said in a statement the proposed laws were a "comprehensive assault on the city's autonomy, rule of law and fundamental freedoms".

China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, said the legislation - which would ban "treason, secession, sedition and subversion" - should be brought in "without the slightest delay".

It rejects criticism of the move.

The biggest erosion of Hong Kong autonomy since China took control of the former British colony in 1997 has alarmed democracy advocates and foreign businesses who fear the city will lose its independence from the mainland. Many activists and rights groups have expressed deep concern about the long term viability of the "one country, two systems" policy under the current Chinese government.

Campaigners have called for protests on Sunday.

Hong Kong protest
Police detain a protester during a rally on Sunday against the implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong

A launch ceremony of the United Front for "supporting national security legislation" campaign is held, Hong Kong, China, May 24, 2020.

HRIC concluded: "It seems highly unlikely that the [NPC standing committee] will formulate a national security law for Hong Kong that conforms to global norms and standards and respects and protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals".

They include 17 members of the US Congress, among them Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who is acting chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Senator Ted Cruz as well as Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who is the most senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Some 44 UK MPs and eight members of the House of Lords also signed.

The escalation of tensions intertwines with USA officials' condemnation of China's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which first appeared in the city of Wuhan in December of a year ago.

"It is not, not, not going to happen". President Trump has also weighed in, saying the United States would react strongly if the law went through - without giving details. But its unpopularity means it has never been done - the government tried in 2003 but had to back down after 500,000 people took to the streets.

A pro-democracy supporter is detained by riot police during an anti-government rally in Hong Kong, China.

On Sunday, thousands of people defied government warnings and marched through the city centre to protest against the bill.

He said the proposal "does not affect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents".

"Sadly, and perhaps tellingly, those who claim to be acting in Hong Kong's best interests turn a blind eye to the explosives, petrol bombs, firearms, weapons, attacks on bystanders, wanton vandalism, online trolling and disinformation campaigns used by radical protesters and their hidden handlers to stoke fear and chaos and destabilise society", it said.

"Hong Kong, whose economic situation has been severe amid the epidemic, can not withstand further blows", he said, adding that the unlawful assemblies and the very violent and illegal acts on Sunday are extremely irresponsible, as they not only affected the commercial activities nearby, but also might increase the risk of the spread of the virus.

Taiwan, which has become a refuge for a small but growing number of pro-democracy protesters fleeing Hong Kong, will provide the people of Hong Kong with "necessary assistance", President Tsai Ing-wen said.

The statement came as the U.S. continues to scale up its condemnation of the proposed law, with Pompeo on Friday calling Beijing's plan to bypass Hong Kong's legislative processes a "death knell" for the territory's autonomy.

If passed, the law stipulates that anyone in Hong Kong found guilty of actions such as "singing the [PRC] national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way" could face a fine up to HK$50,000 ($6,440) and three years in prison.

Why it matters: O'Brien said the US could revoke a special status that allows Hong Kong to function as an worldwide financial hub, stating that it's "hard to see" how the financial community can remain in the city if the law is enacted.

The NPC is expected to vote on the draft law at the end of its annual session, on 28 May.

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