China announces new national security laws sparking tensions with US
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US President Donald Trump reacted to the news by issuing a warning that Washington would react “very strongly” on the move to acquire mote control over the city. The US State Department also said a high-degree of autonomy and recognition of human rights were essential to keeping the territory’s special status in US law.
Hong Kong’s preservation within US law has helped it achieve a position as a world financial centre.
China’s actions could trigger a new wave of protests in the the former British colony, which currently has access to freedoms the mainland does not have.
Trump, who has boosted his anti-China behaviour as he pushes for his re-election in November, told reporters “nobody knows yet” the details of China’s intentions.
“If it happens we’ll address that issue very strongly,” he said.
Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the China’s National People’s Congress, said details of the regulation would be announced on Friday when the parliament holds its annual session.
“In light of the new circumstances and need, the National People’s Congress (NPC) is exercising its constitutional power” to create a new legal structure and enforcement system to preserve national security in Hong Kong, he told a conference.
The “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” authorised by Trump last year requires the State Department to accredit at least annually that Hong Kong maintains enough autonomy to substantiate favourable US trading terms.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on May 6 he was postponing this evaluation to weigh in any NPC actions.
If the State Department decertifies Hong Kong, Trump would still have the last word on whether to decide to end some, all, or none of the advantages the territory currently boasts.
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On Thursday, Democratic and Republican US senators said they would implement regulations to bolster the Hong Kong act’s sanctions provisions.
“A further crackdown from Beijing will only intensify the Senate’s interest in re-examining the US-China relationship,” US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said in a statement.
Wall Street ended lower on Thursday as US-China disagreements sparked skepticism about a trade deal taking place this year between the two nations.
Tensions have increased considerably in recent weeks, with hostile disagreements over the pandemic crisis.
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Pro-democracy demonstrators have for years been against national security legislation, citing they could deteriorate the city’s high degree of autonomy.
Hong Kong’s autonomy is endorsed under the “one country, two systems” principle in place for two decades.
A senior Hong Kong government official said details on the plans and how they would be exercised remained unclear, however, Hong Kong media outlets have claimed the law would ban secession, foreign intervention, terrorism and all insubordination forms targeting the central government.
US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said any Chinese plans to implement laws that did not echo the wishes of the people would be highly undermining and confronted with strong counteraction.
A previous attempt to implement Hong Kong national security legislation, known as Article 23, in 2003 was met with mass peaceful demonstrations and scrapped.
Online posts had advised Hong Kong citizens to protest on Thursday night and dozens were seen exclaiming pro-democracy mottos in a shopping centre as riot police watched on nearby.
Opposition lawmakers said the regulations would severely damage Hong Kong’s status as a financial centre and its autonomy.
“If this move takes place, ‘one country, two systems’ will be officially erased,” said democratic lawmaker Dennis Kwok.
“This is the end of Hong Kong.”
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