Hong Kong Pompeo Condemns China’s Law As Death Knell For Freedoms

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Hong Kong Pompeo Condemns China’s Law As Death Knell For Freedoms

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has condemned China’s plan to impose a new security law in Hong Kong, calling it a “death knell” for the city’s freedoms.

China is seeking to pass a law that would ban “treason, secession, sedition and subversion” in Hong Kong.

Critics say the law would strip Hong Kong of the rights it currently enjoys, that are not seen in mainland China.

Mr Pompeo said the decision to bypass Hong Kong’s lawmakers ignores “the will of the people”.

“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,” Mr Pompeo said in a statement on Friday.

Mr Pompeo’s intervention is likely to infuriate the Chinese government, whose relations with the US have been strained recently by disputes over trade and the coronavirus pandemic

It said: “Making such a law on Hong Kong’s behalf without the direct participation of its people, legislature or judiciary would clearly undermine the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, under which Hong Kong is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy.”

In Hong Kong, pro-democracy activists have been calling for support from Western governments after China announced the law. On Friday, campaigners urged mass protests over the weekend.

The law was submitted at the annual National People’s Congress (NPC), which largely rubber-stamps decisions already taken by the Communist leadership, but is still the most important political event of the year.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region and an economic powerhouse, was required to introduce such a law after the handover from British control to Chinese rule in 1997. But its unpopularity means it has never been done – the government tried in 2003 but had to back down after 500,000 people took to the streets.

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Now, after a wave of sustained and often violent protests in Hong Kong last year, Beijing is attempting to push the law through. The Chinese government argues the law is necessary to “prevent, stop and punish” such protests in the future.

Hong Kong’s government said it would co-operate with Beijing to enact the law, adding it would not affect the city’s freedoms.

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Why is the law so controversial?

Hong Kong is what is known as a “special administrative region” of China.

It has observed “one country, two systems” since Britain returned sovereignty in 1997, which has allowed it certain freedoms the rest of China does not have.

Hong Kong Pompeo Condemns China’s Law As Death Knell For Freedoms

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