Hong Kong: US and allies defend ‘bastion of freedom’

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protest in HK, 27 MayImage copyright Reuters
Image caption The legislation has sparked a brand new wave of anti-mainland protest

The US, UK, Australia and Canada have issued recent condemnation of Beijing’s new safety legislation for Hong Kong, which they are saying has “flourished as a bastion of freedom”.

They say the worldwide group has a “significant and long-standing stake” in its prosperity and stability.

China’s move to impose the brand new legislation throughout a worldwide pandemic risked undermining belief in governments and worldwide co-operation, they mentioned.

China has rejected international criticism.

The legislation – authorised by China’s parliament on Thursday – has already sparked a brand new wave of anti-mainland protest in Hong Kong.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned developments in Hong Kong meant it might not be thought-about to have “a high degree of autonomy” from mainland China.

This might result in Hong Kong being handled the identical as mainland China beneath US legislation, which might have main implications for its commerce hub standing.

The UK on Thursday mentioned visa rights for 300,000 British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong can be prolonged right into a “pathway to future [UK] citizenship” if China didn’t droop its safety legislation plans.

What is within the new assertion?

Direct imposition of the safety legislation by Beijing relatively than by Hong Kong’s personal establishments would “curtail the Hong Kong people’s liberties” and “dramatically erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous”, the assertion says.

It would additionally battle with China’s worldwide obligations throughout the Sino-British declaration, beneath which Hong Kong was returned to China, and would each undermine the “one country, two systems” precept and “raise the prospect of prosecution in Hong Kong for political crimes”.

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Media captionDominic Raab says he’s “deeply troubled” by China’s actions in Hong Kong

The allies additionally say they’re “deeply concerned” that the brand new legislation will deepen divisions in Hong Kong, which has seen repeated waves of protests and clashes over the territory’s relationship with the mainland.

“Rebuilding trust across Hong Kong society by allowing the people of Hong Kong to enjoy the rights and freedoms they were promised can be the only way back from the tensions and unrest that the territory has seen over the last year,” the assertion says.

The US and its allies urge China to work with Hong Kong’s authorities and folks to discover a “mutually acceptable accommodation”.

In different response, Japan mentioned Hong Kong was an “extremely important partner” and that democracy and stability there have to be maintained.

What is the legislation about?

China’s parliament has backed the safety laws, which might make it against the law to undermine Beijing’s authority in Hong Kong.

The decision – which now passes to China’s senior management – might additionally see China putting in its personal safety businesses within the area for the primary time.

Full particulars about precisely what behaviour will probably be outlawed beneath the brand new safety legislation usually are not but clear. It is because of be enacted earlier than September.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Xi Jinping and different senior figures applauded when the safety legislation was handed

However it’s anticipated to criminalise:

  • secession – breaking away from the nation
  • subversion – undermining the ability or authority of the central authorities
  • terrorism – utilizing violence or intimidation in opposition to individuals
  • actions by international forces that intrude in Hong Kong

Experts say they fear the legislation might see individuals punished for criticising Beijing – as occurs in mainland China. For instance, Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years for subversion after he co-authored a doc calling for political reform.

China’s international ministry in Hong Kong mentioned it “firmly opposed and refuted” Mr Pompeo’s assertion that Hong Kong had misplaced its autonomy and urged the US to “immediately stop meddling” in China’s inside affairs.

It described US criticism of the brand new draft legislation as “utterly imperious, unreasonable and shameless”.

Hong Kong’s chief Carrie Lam has denied that the legislation would curtail the rights of Hong Kongers and mentioned it was a “responsible” move to guard the law-abiding majority.

What is occurring in Hong Kong?

Clashes broke out on Wednesday as Hong Kong’s parliament debated a distinct proposed legislation, which might make it against the law to disrespect the Chinese nationwide anthem. Hundreds of individuals had been arrested in protests over that and the safety legislation.

Security remained excessive on Thursday, as a tense debate within the Legislative Council continued.

At least two pro-democracy legislators had been ejected from the council on Thursday. One lawmaker, Ted Hui, threw rotten vegetation on to the ground of the chamber, saying it symbolised the decay of Hong Kong’s political system.

“I want the speaker to feel what is meant by rotten,” he mentioned.

The speaker deemed the package deal to be an “unknown dangerous object”, and known as police and fireplace crews.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Firefighters test the Legislative Council chamber after a lawmaker threw foul-smelling vegetation on to the ground

Why is China doing this?

Hong Kong was handed again to China from British management in 1997, however beneath a singular settlement – a mini-constitution known as the Basic Law and a so-called “one country, two systems” precept.

They are supposed to guard sure freedoms for Hong Kong: freedom of meeting and speech, an impartial judiciary and a few democratic rights – freedoms that no different a part of mainland China has.

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Media captionPolice arrested dozens of individuals in Causeway Bay on Wednesday

Under the identical settlement, Hong Kong needed to enact its personal nationwide safety legislation – this was set out in Article 23 of the Basic Law.

But its unpopularity meant it has by no means been completed – the federal government tried in 2003 however needed to again down after protests.

Then, final yr, protests over an extradition legislation turned violent and developed right into a broader anti-China and pro-democracy motion.

China is eager to keep away from a repeat of that unrest.