《TAIPEI TIMES》 China approves HK national security legislation
People hold up fingers in a gesture endorsing “five demands, not one less” at the Landmark shopping mall in Hong Kong yesterday. Photo: Bloomberg
/ AP, BEIJING and WASHINGTON
The Chinese National People’s Congress （NPC） yesterday endorsed national security legislation for Hong Kong that has prompted new protests in the territory.
Lawmakers approved the bill by a vote of 2,878 to one with six abstentions, in line with the largely ceremonial body’s custom of near-unanimous support for legislative changes decided by the Chinese Communist Party.
The bill would alter Hong Kong’s Basic Law to require the territory to enforce measures to be decided by the NPC Standing Committee, which handles most lawmaking work.
It reflects the determination of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s （習近平） government to tighten control over Hong Kong following 11 months of anti-government protests.
Activists in Hong Kong say the legislation would undermine the “high degree of autonomy” promised to the former British colony when it was handed back to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework and might be used to suppress political activity.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang （李克強） said that it is consistent with Beijing’s promises.
“The decision adopted by the NPC session is designed for steady implementation of ‘one country, two systems,’ and Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability,” Li told a news conference.
The proposed legislation led US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday to announce that Washington would no longer treat Hong Kong as autonomous from Beijing.
That could hurt the territory’s attractiveness as a business center.
Li called for mutual respect and Sino-US cooperation to promote “extensive common interests” in resolving global problems, and promoting trade, science and other fields.
“Both countries stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation,” Li said.
Pompeo notified the US Congress that the administration of US President Donald Trump no longer regards Hong Kong as autonomous from mainland China.
“Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as US laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Pompeo’s certification came amid calls in the US and elsewhere for Washington and others to react against Beijing imposing its national security legislation on Hong Kong.
After sending the notification to Capitol Hill, Pompeo spoke by telephone with British Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Dominic Raab.
The two agreed that China “must honor its commitments and obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
The US, the UK, Canada and Australia yesterday issued a joint statement, saying that China is violating its international obligations.
“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 proposed law would undermine the ‘one country, two systems’ framework,” the statement said.
Additional reporting by AFP
Chinese President Xi Jinping votes to pass a security law on Hong Kong at a session of China’s National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Photo: AFP