US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday slammed China’s proposed national security legislation on Hong Kong, calling it “unilateral and arbitrary”.
“The United States condemns the PRC proposal to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong and strongly urges Beijing to reconsider. We stand with the people of Hong Kong,” tweeted Pompeo, also releasing a statement on the matter.
China earlier on Friday brought for approval a new national security law for the “defenseless” Hong Kong to “safeguard” national security.
China’s Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Wang Chen said: “The increasingly notable national security risks in HKSAR [Hong Kong Specially Administered Region] have become a prominent problem.”
Pompeo in his statement said the “disastrous proposal” should be reconsidered by China to “abide by its international obligations.”
If this is not the case, its special status under US law might be reconsidered, he added.
“The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations, and respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties, which are key to preserving its special status under U.S. law,” Pompeo said.
Referring to year-long protests against the local government, Wang said such activities have “seriously challenged the bottom line of the principle of one country, two systems, harmed the rule of law, and threatened national sovereignty, security and development interests,” Xinhua news reported.
But Wang also said “one country, two systems” had achieved “unprecedented success” in Hong Kong ever since 1997 when the UK handed over the region to Beijing.
Hong Kong, an autonomous region under China since 1997, had been witnessing protests since early 2019 against the Carrie Lam administration’s move to legalize extradition to mainland China.
The bill has now been dumped, but the street demonstrations left the city reeling, with international financial observers expressing concern over the economic prospects of the business hub.
“Law-based and forceful measures must be taken to prevent, stop and punish such activities,” Wang said, citing Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, which holds Hong Kong responsible to “prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the Central People’s Government (CPG).”
“More than 20 years after Hong Kong’s return, however, relevant laws are yet to materialize due to the sabotage and obstruction by those trying to sow trouble in Hong Kong and China at large, as well as external hostile forces,” Wang said.
He added: “Efforts must be made at the state-level to establish and improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms […] to advance the institutional building to safeguard national security on the course of China’s Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong.”
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