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China set to impose new Hong Kong security law

By James Pomfret, Yew Lun Tian and Steve Holland

China is set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong after last year's pro-democracy unrest, a Chinese official said on Thursday, drawing a warning from President Donald Trump that Washington would react "very strongly" against the attempt to gain more control over the former British colony.

The U.S. State Department also warned China, saying a high-degree of autonomy and respect for human rights were key to preserving the territory's special status in U.S. law, which has helped it maintain its position as a world financial centre.

China's action could spark fresh protests in Hong Kong, which enjoys many freedoms not allowed on the mainland, after often violent demonstrations of 2019 plunged the city into its deepest turmoil since it returned to Beijing's rule in 1997.

Trump, who has ratcheted up his anti-China rhetoric as he seeks re-election in November, told reporters "nobody knows yet" the details of China's plan. "If it happens we'll address that issue very strongly," he said, without elaborating.

Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the China's National People's Congress, said details of the legislation would be given on Friday when the parliament holds its annual session.

"In light of the new circumstances and need, the National People's Congress (NPC) is exercising its constitutional power" to establish a new legal framework and enforcement mechanism to safeguard national security in Hong Kong, he told a briefing.

Pro-democracy demonstrators have for years opposed the idea of national security laws, arguing they could erode the city's high degree of autonomy, guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" formula in place for two decades.

A senior Hong Kong government official said details on the move and its implementation remained unclear, but Hong Kong media have reported the legislation would ban secession, foreign interference, terrorism and all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government.

The "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act" approved by Trump last year requires the State Department to certify at least annually that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to justify favorable U.S. trading terms.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on May 6 he was delaying this assessment to account for any NPC actions.

If the State Department decertified the territory, it would still ultimately fall to Trump whether to decide to end some, all, or none of the privileges Hong Kong currently enjoys.

Ending Hong Kong's special status would be a big blow for U.S. firms. According to the State Department, 85,000 U.S. citizens lived in Hong Kong in 2018 and more than 1,300 U.S. companies operate there, including nearly every major U.S. financial firm.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said any move to impose legislation that did not reflect the will of the people would be highly destabilizing and met with strong U.S. condemnation.

A previous attempt to introduce Hong Kong national security legislation, known as Article 23, in 2003 was met with mass peaceful protests and shelved.

Online posts had urged people in Hong Kong to protest on Thursday night and dozens were seen shouting pro-democracy slogans in a shopping mall as riot police stood nearby.

Opposition democrats said the move would gravely wound Hong Kong's reputation as a financial centre and its autonomy.

"If this move takes place, 'one country, two systems' will be officially erased," said democratic lawmaker Dennis Kwok.“This is the end of Hong Kong."

Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia until early in the Trump administration, suggested Chinese President Xi Jinping might see "muscle-flexing" on Hong Kong as a means to make up for a series of setbacks, most notably the coronavirus pandemic that began in China - and this, despite the risk of severe economic consequences for Hong Kong, China and others.

U.S.-China tensions have heightened significantly in recent weeks, as they exchanged accusations on the handling of the pandemic, souring an already worsening relationship over trade.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Taiwan will be next. Trump throwing the TPP in the garbage was one of his first mistakes. XI has made a fool of our president and USA looks weak right now.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Online posts had urged people in Hong Kong to protest on Thursday night and dozens were seen shouting pro-democracy slogans in a shopping mall as riot police stood nearby.

Sorry, that would constitute a public health risk as you'd be "spreading the virus."

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Sorry, that would constitute a public health risk as you'd be "spreading the virus."

Good to see virus-deniers recognize this.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Better to live under oppression and a totalitarian regime than risk public health,I say!

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

President Xi, who also elected himself for life, is determined to end the two state system with laws made in Beijing and no longer trusts the Hong Kong authorities.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

The end of the one party two systems. Xi hasn’t made a fool of Trump. Trump needs no help to do so.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Anyone else tired of all the posturing by Xi and Trump? The US doesn't deal with other dictators, why does China's CCP get a pass?

The US just needs to cut off all trade with China and only allow specially approved trade 1 yr at a time.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The US doesn't deal with other dictators,

Now do saudi arabia and pretty much MENA.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Everything is going as planned, they fueled the protests for months, escalating as much as possible with an aggressive police and ignorance of local demands. They now can act as "out of patience" and need to take over to bring peace back ... This is how the early end of one country two systems comes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Here comes the crackdown.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Toasted HereticToday 09:57 am JSTHere comes the crackdown.

I saw Tiananmen Square live in June 1989 on TV. The CCP is making up excuses for one here and since Diaper Don kowtows to dictators he will do nothing. He's just blubbering out his butt - again.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hong Kong is lost, but we should support them as much as possible. To his credit, Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, so there will be some cost to the CCP at least.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What I find most interesting about this article was the party that was not discussed at all. Namely, the UK.

While the U.S.' stance with regards to the PRC's handling of HK is newsworthy, the U.S. is NOT a party to the joint agreement regarding HK.

What the PRC appears set to do is, for all intents and purposes, fundamentally alter the "one country, two systems" model for HK set forth in the agreement. And do so well in advance of the 50 year period outlined in the agreement.

And, yet, the UK has been invisible. They have not mounted a robust opposition to the planned moves by the PRC.

THAT is the story here. Why? Why has the UK abdicated its role as a party to the agreement??

Perhaps for the same reasons that Boris & Co. approved Huawei for portions of the UK's 5G network.

Money!! The PRC has spent its money in the UK well! Too many politicians feeding at the trough of the PRC's largesse!

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Trump throwing the TPP in the garbage was one of his first mistakes

In what universe was that a "mistake", and how would the TPP have helped Hong Kong?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I hope that the HK protests will be the biggest protests the world have ever seen!

China is a pain in the...!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

MontyMay 22 12:23 pm JSTI hope that the HK protests will be the biggest protests the world have ever seen!

China is a pain in the...!

Even if the CCP succeeds in the crackdown, we can hope it's a Pyrrhic victory. Recall the Chinese Taiping Rebellion civil war of the 1860s that weakened the victorious Qing dynasty big time, leading to its 1911 overthrow.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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