Friday, 29 May 2020

U.S., Canada, U.K., And Australia Release Joint Reprimand Of China Over Hong Kong Law

In an unprecedented move, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia have joined in a formal reprimand of China over its decision to impose a draconian national security law on Hong Kong, severely curtailing Hong Kong residents’ rights and freedoms.
The letter, issued Thursday, calls China’s actions a threat to freedom and democracy and warns that the Asian powerhouse may now be in violation of the 1984 agreement between China and the United Kingdom, transferring power over Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of freedom,” the four nations wrote, according to Reuters. The letter expresses the international coalition’s “deep concern regarding Beijing’s decision to impose a national security law in Hong Kong.”
The new legislation, they say, will “curtail the Hong Kong people’s liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous.”
“China’s decision to impose the new national security law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally-binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration,” the group notes, adding that they are “also extremely concerned that this action will exacerbate the existing deep divisions in Hong Kong society.”
China unveiled the law late last week, shocking the international community and sending Hong Kong into chaos. The rule “bans secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, foreign intervention and allows mainland China’s state security agencies to operate in the city,” per CNN, and is meant to supersede Hong Kong officials’ authority to control Hong Kong residents, particularly those engaged in the now months-long anti-China democracy movement.
Thursday morning, China’s legislature approved the law, opting to exercise full control over Hong Kong. CNN reports that only one of nearly 3,000 delegates voted against the measure. Six delegates abstained.
Hong Kong will now have no choice but to submit to Chinese authority.
“Now approved, the NPC’s standing committee will draft the law — a process that is expected to take about two months. It will then be implemented upon promulgation by the Hong Kong government, bypassing the city’s legislature via a rarely-enacted constitutional backdoor,” CNN said Thursday. “The law will drastically broaden Beijing’s power over Hong Kong, which last year was roiled by anti-government protests calling for greater democracy and more autonomy from mainland China.”
The protests began last year, after China attempted, through Hong Kong’s China-friendly chief executive, Carrie Lam, to extend their surveillance and arrest powers into the island city-state. Lam proposed a law that would allow China to seek out and arrest “dissidents” and other enemies of China hiding out inside Hong Kong’s borders.
The population of Hong Kong revolted, holding a series of pro-democracy protests that, in some instances, involved more than 5 million people — half the city-state’s population. The protests grew increasingly violent as China pressured Hong Kong to crack down on demonstrations, and now, convinced that Hong Kong can never quash its residents, China says it’s moving in to take control.
The United States has already proposed drastic measures against China over the law, including a series of tariffs aimed at corporations operating within China’s borders. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even took the extreme step of declaring that Hong Kong was no longer an “autonomous” nation and that the Trump administration was considering a response.

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