China’s parliament adopts controversial national security legislation for Hong Kong, according to reports
China’s parliament passed national security legislation for Hong Kong on Tuesday, reported the city’s cable TV, and created the scene for the most radical change in the lifestyle of the former British colony since returning to Chinese rule in 1997.
Cable TV, citing an unidentified source, said the law was passed unanimously by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress.
Beijing introduced the law in response to last year’s often violent protocratic protests in the city. It will deal with subversion, terrorism, separatism and cooperation with foreign forces, officials say.
A draft law, which will come into effect as soon as it is published in Hong Kong, has not yet been published.
Tensions with the United States
On Monday, the United States ended sensitive defense exports to Hong Kong, pushing further in a row over financial autonomy from China.
The US announced the decision hours after China’s move to restrict visas for some Americans on their way to Hong Kong, itself a tit-for-tat response to a US move.
The United States has led a global uproar over China’s national security legislation for Hong Kong, which activists say will destroy the city’s freedoms.
“We can no longer distinguish between export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to China,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“We cannot risk these things falling into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army, whose main purpose is to uphold the CCP’s dictatorship in any way necessary,” he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
The direct impact will be modest. Last year, the Department of Foreign Affairs approved $ 2.4 million in defense sales to Hong Kong, of which $ 1.4 million was actually sent, including firearms and law enforcement ammunition, according to official figures.
Special status is revoked
At the same time, the Commerce Department said it was revoking its special status for Hong Kong.
It will now treat the financial hub the same as China’s dual-use exports that have both military and civilian applications – and which are very limited when sought by Beijing.
Chinapromised autonomy for Hong Kong before Britain returned to territory in 1997 but does not want to repeat the massive and sometimes destructive protests that rocked the territory last year.
“It gives us no pleasure to take this action, which is a direct consequence of Beijing’s decision to violate its own commitments under the UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Pompeo said.
President Donald Trump’s administration has already declared that Hong Kong is no longer independent in the United States and has implemented a number of measures in response.
On Friday, the Foreign Ministry said it restricted visas for an unspecified number of Chinese officials who are considered responsible for violating the independence of the Asian financial hub.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that the US “system … to prevent passage in Hong Kong’s national security laws will never sail.”
“In order to address the above-mentioned illegal measures, China decided to impose visa restrictions on US individuals who have acted uncomfortably on issues related to Hong Kong,” Zhao said.
China’s top legislative committee is expected to pass the law, already approved by Beijing’s rubber stamp parliament, during sessions ending Tuesday.
While the legislation bans subversion, isolation, terrorism and cooperation with foreign forces, the legislation will allow China’s security agency to open stores in the city for the first time.
The United Kingdom, the European Union and the UN Rights Watch have all expressed fears that the law could be used to stifle criticism of Beijing, which uses similar laws on the mainland to crush dissent.
In Washington, some US lawmakers fear that Trump will primarily take symbolic action against Hong Kong, preferring to prioritize trade considerations that could affect his reelection campaign.
Last week, the US Senate unanimously approved a bill that would impose mandatory financial penalties on Chinese officials, Hong Kong police – and banks working with them – if they are identified as harming the city’s autonomous status.
Zhao, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, warned that the United States “should not review, preview or implement relevant negative legislation on Hong Kong, even less so-called sanctions against China, or else China will indeed take strong countermeasures.”
Hong Kong was supported by seven straight months of protests last year, which initially triggered a finally abandoned plan to allow extractions to the mainland.
But they soon became a popular uprising against Beijing’s rule and widespread demands for democracy.
(AXADLE with REUTERS and AFP)