‘Death knell for Hong Kong autonomy’ | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:16 AM, May 23, 2020

Controversial national security law

‘Death knell for Hong Kong autonomy’

US slams China; Beijing says laws needed for security

  • Trump says Washington would react 'very strongly'
  • Beijing may base security agencies in Hong Kong 
  • Pro-democracy lawmakers predict 'end of Hong Kong'
  • China drops word 'peaceful' in Taiwan 'reunification' push

 

A Chinese proposal to impose national security laws on Hong Kong could see mainland intelligence agencies set up bases there, raising fears of direct law enforcement and what US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called a "death knell" for the city's autonomy.

Communist Party rulers in Beijing unveiled details yesterday, a day after proposing the legislation that critics see as a turning point for China's most free-wheeling city.

Pro-democracy activists and politicians in the former British colony have for years opposed such legislation, arguing it could erode its autonomy, guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" agreement under which Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.

Some pro-democracy lawmakers denounced the plans as "the end of Hong Kong". Hong Kong activists called for people to rise up against the proposal, aimed at tackling secession, subversion, terrorism, and foreign interference, that has sent shockwaves across the business and diplomatic communities.

Foreign diplomats fear establishing new Beijing agencies in Hong Kong could give mainland security and intelligence officers enforcement powers that could potentially put rights and freedoms, protected in the handover agreement, at risk.

Calls have emerged for flash mobs at night across the territory and democracy activists plan to meet the press to announce "street action".

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will "fully cooperate" with the Chinese parliament to safeguard national security, which she said would not affect rights, freedoms or judicial independence.

US President Donald Trump warned Washington would react "very strongly" if Beijing went ahead with the security law.

In his annual report to parliament, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China would establish a "sound" legal system and enforcement mechanisms to ensure national security in Hong Kong and Macau.

Li Keqiang yesterday also left out the word "peaceful" in referring to Beijing's desire to "reunify" with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, an apparent policy shift that comes as ties with Taipei continue on a downward spiral.

Democratic Taiwan has shown no interest in being ruled by autocratic China.

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