China condemns 'gross interference' by UK, Australia and Canada over HKSAR

Cornelia Mascio
Mag 23, 2020

The draft bill - once approved at the annual National People's Congress, which is underway - will give the Chinese security state far more of a legal basis to operate in Hong Kong.

In a show of support for demonstrators, the US Congress previous year overwhelmingly approved a law that would end Hong Kong's preferential trade access to the world's largest economy if it is no longer certified as enjoying autonomy - which Beijing promised before regaining control of the then British colony in 1997.

Al Jazeera's Adrian Brown reports. Pro-democracy activists say the move endangers the future of "one country, two systems", the principle under which the Asian financial hub has been overseen by Beijing since the handover by Britain in 1997.

The proposal for the legislation - expected to ban treason, subversion and sedition - was introduced at the opening of the National People's Congress in Beijing yesterday.

Joshua Wong, one of the city's most prominent activists, distributed flyers with a group of others outside the Hung Hom train station in Kowloon on Friday evening. There would be a consultation process, the news agency quoted him as saying. Beijing's "one country, two systems" promise - the system that was to last to 2047 - is out the door.

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.

"This was probably as much a signal to Beijing as it was to Taipei", he said, "To the former, while the United States still adheres to its One-China Policy, Washington will not allow Beijing to dictate how it conducts relations with a democratic ally and important security partner of the United States".

The Trump administration indicated last month that it would consider rolling back Hong Kong's favorable trading status, a key point of leverage, if Beijing played too strong a hand.

"We're absolutely not going to give China a pass", Hassett said, "It's a very hard, scary move".

The Hong Kong government will "complete the legislation as soon as possible to discharge its responsibility of safeguarding national security", said Mr Lam, who is attending the NPC. Hong Kong stocks slumped 5.6 per cent yesterday.

Beijing has defended its draft bill, which it say's protects Hong Kong's interests.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branded the "disastrous proposal" a "death knell for the high degree of autonomy that Beijing promised for Hong Kong".

The Hong Kong government will then promulgate the law and make it effective in Hong Kong. "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 shall remain in force".

People are concerned this affect free speech their right to protest - which is now legal in Hong Kong.

Finally, people realise that an erosion of Hong Kong's liberties will affects its attractiveness as a business and economic powerhouse.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne joined her counterpart in the UK Dominic Raab, and in Canada Francois-Philippe Champagne, in saying the laws would be contrary to the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.

"We should stop being fooled that somehow at the end of all the kowtowing there's this great pot of gold waiting for us".

Patten also said the government should think carefully about the Chinese company Huawei's involvement in the UK's 5G network. "It's always been an illusion", Patten said.

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