World reacts to China’s national security law for Hong Kong

Japan expresses dismay as EU ‘deplores’ passage of new law, prompting China to denounce interference in its affairs.

Police detain pro-democracy protesters during a rally at a shopping mall in Hong Kong, China, on June 30, 2020 [Jerome Favre/ EPA]
Police detain pro-democracy protesters during a rally at a shopping mall in Hong Kong, China, on June 30, 2020 [Jerome Favre/ EPA]
China’s enactment of a national security law for Hong Kong has triggered concern overseas and a firm defence at home.

China says the law is necessary to deal with separatism and foreign interference in the semi-autonomous territory, but critics say it will outlaw dissent and destroy the autonomy promised when Britain handed the territory to Beijing in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework.

Japan
“It is regrettable that the national security law was enacted despite strong concerns shared among the international society and the people of Hong Kong,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said.




“It will undermine trust for the principle of ‘one country, two systems.’ “

United Kingdom
“We will be looking at the law very carefully and we will want to scrutinize it properly to understand whether it is in conflict with the Joint Declaration between the UK. and China. We will be setting out our response in due course,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.


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“China has chosen to break their promises to the people of Hong Kong and go against their obligations to the international community. The UK will not turn our backs on the commitments we have made to the people of Hong Kong,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab wrote on Twitter.

He added that Britain is raising the issue at the UN Human Rights Council.


China passes Hong Kong security law, deepening fears for future (11:03)
United States
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the legislation as “draconian” which would “end free Hong Kong” in a tweet late on Tuesday.


“The purpose of this brutal, sweeping law is to frighten, intimidate and suppress Hong Kongers who are peacefully demanding the freedoms that were promised,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

“We continue to urge President Trump to hold Chinese officials accountable for their abuses including in Hong Kong by deploying sanctions under the 2016 Magnitsky Act and by taking steps under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. … We must consider all tools available, including visa limitations and economic penalties.”

European Union
“This law risks seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong and having a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law,” said European Council President Charles Michel. “We deplore this decision.”


Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said: “We have indeed consistently said that China would risk very negative consequences if it went ahead with this law, including for business confidence, China’s reputation, public perception in Hong Kong and internationally.

“We remain in touch with our international partners on this matter and will pay careful attention to how to respond.”

Hong Kong
“It will only target an extremely small minority of people who have breached the law, while the life and property, basic rights and freedoms of the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong residents will be protected,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said.

“The legislation will not undermine ‘one country, two systems’ and Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang cast their votes on the national security legislation for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region at the closing session of NPC in Beijing
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang cast their votes on the national security legislation for Hong Kong at the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing on May 28 [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]
Mainland China
“This issue is purely China’s internal affairs, and no foreign country has the right to interfere,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said.

“The Chinese government is unswervingly determined to safeguard the interests of national sovereignty, security and development, to implement the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, and to oppose any external force interfering in Hong Kong affairs.”

Taiwan

“China promised that Hong Kong would remain unchanged for 50 years. The adoption of the National Security Law makes people feel that this commitment is indeed a blow to public confidence,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said.

“We are disappointed that China cannot fulfill its commitments, which also proves that the ‘one country, two systems’ is not feasible.”

Joint statement by 27 countries at UN Human Rights Council
Twenty-seven countries including Britain, France, Germany and Japan said China must reconsider the law which “undermines” Hong Kong’s freedoms.

The 27 countries have “deep and growing concerns” over the new security law, which has clear implications on the human rights of people in Hong Kong, the statement said.

Imposing the law without the direct participation of Hong Kong’s people, legislature or judiciary “undermines” the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle guaranteeing Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, rights and freedoms, said the signatories, which included Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and 15 European Union states including the Netherlands and Sweden.

“We urge the Chinese and Hong Kong governments to reconsider the imposition of this legislation and to engage Hong Kong’s people, institutions and judiciary to prevent further erosion of the rights and freedoms that the people of Hong Kong have enjoyed for many years.”


Is Hong Kong’s autonomy dead? | The Stream

Australia
In a statement on Wednesday morning, Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne expressed “deep concern” over the legislation.

“Australia is troubled by the law’s implications for Hong Kong’s judicial independence, and on the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong, both of which underpin the city’s success,” Payne said.

“That this decision was made without the direct participation of Hong Kong’s people, legislature or judiciary is a further cause for concern. The people of Hong Kong will make their own assessments of how this decision will affect their city’s future. The eyes of the world will remain on Hong Kong.”

Will international pressure improve human rights in China?

INSIDE STORY

Will international pressure improve human rights in China?

China passes Hong Kong security law, deepening fears for future
Law expected to come into force on July 1 in most radical change to semi-autonomous territory since 1997 handover.

30 Jun 2020 11:32 GMT
China passes Hong Kong security law, deepening fears for future
Police detain pro-democracy protesters during a rally at a shopping mall in Hong Kong, China, on June 30, 2020 [Jerome Favre/EPA]
China’s President Xi Jinping has signed into law a controversial national security legislation for Hong Kong that Beijing says is necessary to deal with separatism and foreign interference but critics say will outlaw dissent and destroy the autonomy promised when the territory was returned to China in 1997.

Details of the law – which comes in response to last year’s often-violent pro-democracy protests in the city – are due out later on Tuesday.

The legislation will come into effect when it is gazetted in Hong Kong – bypassing the semi-autonomous territory’s own legislature – and is expected to be in force by July 1, the anniversary of the former British territory’s return to Chinese rule.

“We hope the law will serve as a deterrent to prevent people from stirring up trouble,” said Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong’s sole representative on the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, which approved the law on Tuesday morning.

“Don’t let Hong Kong be used as a tool to split the country,” he said.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, noted the passage of the law had been fast-tracked.

“It’s very symbolic that this law has been passed just a day before the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain back to mainland China,” she said. “It seems to be Beijing telling the people that at the end of the day it is China that is in charge in Hong Kong and China’s leaders will do whatever they deem necessary to protect Hong Kong.”

Pro-democracy protesters observe a minute of silence during a protest after China’s parliament passes a national security law for Hong Kong
Pro-democracy protesters observe a minute of silence during a protest after China’s parliament passes a national security law for Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, China June 30, 2020 [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, speaking via video link to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, said the law would fill a “gaping hole” and would not undermine the territory’s autonomy or its independent judiciary.

Lam said Hong Kong had been “traumatised by escalating violence fanned by external forces” and added: “No central government could turn a blind eye to such threats to sovereignty and national security.”

‘End of Hong Kong’
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.

After the law passed Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress earlier on Tuesday, prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Nathan Law issued statements on Facebook saying they would withdraw from the pro-democracy organisation Demosisto.

Wong said “worrying about life and safety” has become a real issue and nobody will be able to predict the repercussions of the law, whether it is being extradited to China or facing long jail terms.

The legislation marked “the end of the Hong Kong that the world knew before”, he said, adding: “From now on, Hong Kong enters a new era of reign of terror. With sweeping powers and ill-defined law the city will turn into a secret police state.”

Demosisto then announced on Facebook it was disbanding, saying the loss of top members made it difficult to continue.


China first announced its plan to impose the legislation on the eve of the National People’s Congress last month, after nearly a year of protests in the territory that began over a now-withdrawn extradition bill with the mainland.

The security bill gave renewed momentum to the protests, which had calmed as the coronavirus pandemic made it more difficult to hold mass gatherings, and triggered condemnation from countries including the United States and the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, more than 100 protesters gathered at a luxury mall in Hong Kong’s Central business district, chanting slogans including “free Hong Kong, revolution now”, with several holding up a flag representing an independent Hong Kong as well as posters condemning the law.


INSIDE STORY: Will international pressure improve human rights in China? (25:01)
Activists are calling for fresh protests on July 1 even though police have said rallies cannot happen because of the coronavirus. Some 4,000 police are expected to be on standby on Wednesday when an official ceremony also takes place.

Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown, reporting from Hong Kong, said the mood in the city was sombre.

The passage of the law has “had an immediate and chilling impact. We went out on the streets at lunchtime to speak to ordinary people at lunchtime to try and gauge their opinions and none of them wanted to comment – that’s very unusual here in Hong Kong,” he said.

“People are now going to vote with their feet and leave in droves.”

Life imprisonment
This month, China’s official Xinhua news agency unveiled some of the law’s provisions, including that it would supersede existing Hong Kong legislation and that interpretation powers belong to China’s parliament’s top committee.

Beijing is expected to set up a national security office in Hong Kong for the first time and could also exercise jurisdiction in certain cases. Judges for security cases are expected to be appointed by the city’s chief executive. Senior judges now allocate rosters up through Hong Kong’s independent judicial system.

It is not known which specific activities are to be made illegal, how precisely they are defined or what punishment they carry.

The South China Morning Post said only a handful of Hong Kong’s delegates to China’s parliament saw the draft before it was approved unanimously by the standing committee’s 162 members earlier on Tuesday. The vote came within 15 minutes of the meeting starting at 9am local time (01:00 GMT), the paper added.

Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, said on Twitter that the law’s heaviest penalty was life imprisonment.


The legislation pushes Beijing further along a collision course with the US, the UK and other Western governments, which have said it erodes the high degree of autonomy the city was granted at its handover.

The US, already in dispute with China over trade, the South China Sea and the novel coronavirus, began eliminating Hong Kong’s special status under US law on Monday, halting defence exports and restricting technology access.

Meanwhile, Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, called the passing of the law on Tuesday a “grave step”, while Charles Michel, president of the European Union Council, said the bloc “deplores” the decision.

Japan described the move as “regrettable”, while Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said she was “very disappointed” at the outcome.

And Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty International China, said Beijing’s “aim is to govern Hong Kong through fear from this point forward”.

China has hit back at the outcry, denouncing “interference” in its internal affairs.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES


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