China warns of countermeasures over Washington’s Hong Kong trade threats

Daniel Fowler
May 25, 2020

Hong Kong's security chief on Monday welcomed China's plans to impose a national security law on the financial hub, saying it was needed to defeat "terrorism" and calls for independence.

Though smaller demonstrations have broken out in recent weeks, Sunday's was the largest since protests over a now-suspended extradition law roiled the city past year.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that "what laws, how, and when Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) should legislate are entirely within the scope of China's sovereignty".

The Basic Law was drafted by a committee set up by China's National People's Congress in 1987.

Protesters, who have hit the streets in their millions, say they are motivated by years of Beijing chipping away at the city's freedoms since it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

Later that year when they tried to return to their work at the committee, Beijing expelled them and accused them of "subverting state power".

"Instead of becoming unnecessarily anxious, people should have more confidence in Hong Kong's future", he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has condemned the proposed national security law.

The planned Sunday protests do not have official permission, and Hong Kong's police force warned it would take action against any unauthorised assembly, and also cited current coronavirus-linked rules against public gatherings larger than eight people. Facing such a strong opposition, Tung withdrew the controversial bill and none of his successors re-introduced it.

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Citing "notable national security risks" in Hong Kong, NPC vice chairman Wang Chen said "forceful measures must be taken to prevent, stop and punish such activities", in a reference to anti-government protests that erupted almost a year ago over plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

But the demonstration also made clear the challenges before the pro-democracy movement. 2020 hasn't gone well for Beijing either. There has been an overwhelming desire to carry out terms of a trade deal with Beijing.

As a result, the island has become a base for anti-Beijing resistance. Antigovernment groups see that proposal as yet another indication of the mainland's encroachment on Hong Kong.

Taiwan, which has become a refuge for a small but growing number of pro-democracy protesters fleeing Hong Kong, will provide the people of Hong Kong with "necessary assistance", President Tsai Ing-wen said. The Hong Kong branch of The Epoch Times reported that reporters were pepper-sprayed by the police at the Canal Road Flyover, a bridge at Causeway Bay at around 2:45 p.m. local time.

Protests are expected to resume on Wednesday, when the city's legislature is expected to give a second reading of a bill that would criminalise abuse of China's national anthem.

As Angelo Giuliano, a Swiss citizen who lives in Hong Kong, tweeted, the national security legislation for Hong Kong is "a priority like any other place in the World we need to be protected from foreign interference and TERRORISM". Mass protests in Hong Kong over this are hard to organize because the city is still slowly emerging from the coronavirus shutdown.

"It has no impact on Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents or the legitimate rights, interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong".

Last Thursday, China's NPC made the announcement that it would force a law banning subversion, separatism, and acts of foreign interference on Hong Kong - in what critics and legal observers say is one the most blatant violations of the "one, country, two systems" framework since the handover of Hong Kong from United Kingdom to Chinese control in 1997.

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