Commerce Sec. Ross: US suspends its special treatment for Hong Kong

Daniel Fowler
June 30, 2020

"China gets to determine when its interests are involved and when a [legal] interpretation is warranted", said Cora Chan, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong.

A government advertisement (left) promoting China's national security law is displayed inside an MTR train station in Hong Kong.

But the legislation's passage has been met with strong resistance by Western governments and the pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong, who say it represents an end of the One Country, Two Systems principle that has governed the city since its return to China in 1997.

China promised autonomy for Hong Kong before Britain returned the territory in 1997 but wants no repeat of massive and sometimes destructive protests that rocked the territory past year.

Beijing and Washington had been locked in an escalating diplomatic row over the year-long Hong Kong protests and the national security law.

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

The security legislation imposed on Hong Kong sets the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony's way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.

Opponents fear it will demolish the business hub's cherished political freedoms and hollow out its autonomy given similar laws are used to crush dissent on the authoritarian mainland.

China has responded by saying it would impose a visa ban on U.S. citizens seeking to interfere with Hong Kong's security laws.

Activists have called for huge demonstrations against the law, coinciding with the 1 July handover celebration.

Independence is a historically fringe view in Hong Kong - polls show most protesters tend to want democracy and autonomy, not a full split with China.

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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.

"It's very symbolic that this law has been passed just a day before the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain back to mainland China", she said.

Even as word filtered out that the law had been approved, Hong Kongers remained in the dark about its contents and what might now constitute a crime. "We are allowing the long arms of the Chinese Communist Party to reach Hong Kong".

Albert Ho, a Hong Kong politician, told DW that the council will become the highest executive body in Hong Kong and enable Beijing to supervise local authorities in executing the law.

Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Pao - two Hong Kong newspapers that serve as conduits for Beijing's official policy - also confirmed the passing of the law, as did multiple local Hong Kong media outlets citing anonymous sources in Beijing.

State news agency Xinhua has reported that the law will target acts of "secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign or external forces that endanger national security".

However many are also wary of incurring Beijing's wrath and losing lucrative access to the mainland's huge economy. Soon afterwards, the group announced it would cease operations in Hong Kong.

Millions took to the streets a year ago while a smaller hard core of protesters frequently battled police in often violent confrontations that saw more than 9,000 arrested.

Hong Kong is one of many developing conflicts between China and the United States, on top of trade, the South China Sea and the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Union council president, Charles Michel, said "we deplore the decision" and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said the bloc was now discussing with global partners on any possible measures in response.

Chris Patten, the last British governor of the territory, said in a statement that the decision marked "the end of one-country, two-systems".

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