United States ends arms exports to China, restricts visas amid Hong Kong row

Cornelia Mascio
Giugno 30, 2020

According to the legislation, which was released at 11:00 p.m. and took effect immediately, violations of the laws can result in extradition to China for trial and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Both violent and non-violent activities are covered by the new laws.

Hong Kong was upended by seven straight months of protests past year, initially sparked by an eventually abandoned plan to allow extraditions to the mainland. People with leading roles in the outlawed activities could face life imprisonment.

Norbert Röttgen, a senior German CDU member, condemned "the complete lack of transparency" in the new Hong Kong law - which has not been published in full - and said 1 July marked the day "one country, two systems" no longer exists.

Britain has said it could offer residency and possible citizenship to around 3 million of Hong Kong's 7.5 million people. "The government strongly condemns it and reiterates its support for the people of Hong Kong as they strive for democracy and freedom", cabinet spokesman Evian Ting said.

As the law was signed by President Xi Jinping little more than six weeks after it was first unveiled, Beijing described it as a "sword" hanging over the heads of those who endanger national security.

"I'd be scared whatever way they use the law. You don't know when you'd step on the red line", said a university student who identified himself as Michael.

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. "The separation of powers is in danger of being shattered and the courts politicised by the provision that the chief executive will herself choose the judges for national security cases".

"In the eyes of many Hong Kongers, this is the end of one country, two systems and Hong Kong will be just like any Chinese city and people have to behave likewise", said Joseph Cheng, retired political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong.

Activist Joshua Wong and fellow activists Agnes Chow and Nathan Law announced their resignations from Demosisto, the youth political party they founded in 2016, on Facebook Tuesday.

"We will never accept the passing of the law, even though it is so overpowering", said Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai.

"After much internal deliberation, we have chose to disband and cease all operation as a group given the circumstances", Demosisto said on Twitter.

In addition, Hong Kong, with an adviser appointed from Beijing, will reportedly have to set up its own national security commission to enforce the laws.

Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong's sole representative to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, confirmed to reporters Tuesday that the law had been passed. Leung did not say where the funds would come from.

A government board on Tuesday denied an appeal by the organization to overturn a police decision to ban this year's march due to coronavirus social-distancing rules. "This whole process is secretive because Beijing doesn't want to hear any objection and Chinese authorities don't want to give anyone a chance to criticize the law".

Similar national security laws are used on the authoritarian mainland to crush dissent, in particular the more vaguely worded subversion and collusion offences.

On Tuesday morning, as Hong Kong outlets began reporting the law had passed, Lam refused to comment, saying that it would be "inappropriate" to do so given the legislative body was still meeting in Beijing.

Hundreds of outspoken Twitter accounts run by Hong Kong residents have been voluntarily deleted in the last few days as people rush to clear any potentially incriminating web-browsing history and online political posts.

The United States has ended sensitive defence exports to Hong Kong, further ramping up pressure in a row over the financial capital's autonomy from China.

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