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China’s National People’s Congress approved a decision on Thursday to go forward with national security legislation for Hong Kong. Communist Party bosses say the legislation will be aimed at tackling secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city.
But the US Secretary of State said that the proposed security law was “only the latest in a series of actions” undermining Hong Kong’s freedoms.
He added in Congress: “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground”.
Because of the new laws, Mr Pompeo said on Wednesday Hong Kong no longer qualified for special treatment under US law, potentially dealing a crushing blow to its status as a major financial hub.
But a Chinese state media outlet called the Secretary of State’s remarks about Hong Kong “arrogant” and “hysterical” while describing the US as “narcissistic.”
Hu Xijin, editor of The Global Times, an English-language newspaper which is linked with the Chinese Communist Party, published the editorial earlier today titled: “Pompeo makes arrogant, hysterical statements about HK autonomy.”
The article argued that the Secretary of State “represents the US’ hysterical geo politicization of everything that has to do with China.”
Mr Xijin added in the piece: “Whether Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy must not be defined by the US, Washington is much too narcissistic. US politicians such as Pompeo arrogantly believe that Hong Kong’s destiny is in their hands.
“The US is a superpower, but its national strength has weakened in recent years because of this trade war and nonsense they push. Now, it is seriously ill. Pompeo better wear his face masks before he talks wildly.”
The security plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, also triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months as democracy activists in the city and Western countries fear the laws could jeopardise its special autonomy and freedoms.
Riot police were out in force in Hong Kong as its legislators debated another piece of legislation, a bill that would criminalise disrespect of China’s national anthem.
Last year, the city was rocked for months by often violent pro-democracy demonstrations over an unsuccessful bid to introduce an extradition law to China.
The British government is also deeply concerned about China’s legislation undermining the principle of a one nation, two systems political structure implemented in 1997.
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A Downing Street spokesman said today: “We are deeply concerned about China’s legislation relating to national security.
“We have been very clear that the security legislation risks undermining the principle of one nation, two systems.”
“The steps taken by the Chinese government place the joint declaration under direct threat,” the spokesman added, referring to the agreement between the UK and China that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy would remain unchanged for 50 years.
Foreign minister Dominic Raab spoke to his US counterpart Mike Pompeo about the matter late on Wednesday.
In response, Chinese authorities and the Beijing-backed government in Hong Kong say there was no threat to the city’s autonomy and the new law would be tightly focused.
Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, said today: “The law will not affect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents.”
The city government added it would fully cooperate with Beijing to “complete the relevant legislative work as early as possible.”
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