China’s Legislature Approves Hong Kong Security Resolution
China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), approved a national security resolution on Hong Kong on Thursday, paving the way for the NPC Standing Committee to draft relevant laws for application in the special administrative region (SAR).
National lawmakers, gathering in Beijing this week for the legislature’s annual meeting, voted on the Hong Kong national security resolution in the afternoon, with 2,878 voting yes and one voting no. Six legislators chose to abstain.
Aimed at preventing national security risks in Hong Kong and punishing those responsible, the resolution requires the territory to quickly complete national security legislation under its mini-constitution, the Basic Law, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The resolution aims to establish a legal framework and an implementation mechanism that includes allowing national security bodies of the Chinese central government to set up agencies in Hong Kong.
The resolution said the nation resolutely opposes interference in Hong Kong’s affairs by any foreign or external forces in any form and will take necessary countermeasures, Xinhua said.
The resolution empowers the NPC Standing Committee to formulate relevant laws — which will be included in the Annex 3 of the Basic Law — to prevent and punish acts and activities of separatism and subversion in Hong Kong, according to Xinhua.
The NPC Standing Committee has not yet released any details about the schedule for drafting the relevant laws.
The passage of the resolution comes as the United States is ramping up its opposition to the legislative effort from Beijing to tighten its grip on national security in Hong Kong.
Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, warned in a statement Wednesday that China’s national security efforts related to Hong Kong “fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms,” and thus the U.S. could revoke the city’s special status under U.S. law.
“The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China. After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,” the statement said.
The U.S.’ Hong Kong Policy Act, enacted in 1992, had allowed Washington to continue to treat Hong Kong separately from the Chinese mainland for trade and economic matters since its sovereignty was transferred from the United Kingdom to China in 1997.
On Thursday, the Chinese foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong hit back at Pompeo, saying the top American diplomat's “accusations are smears and distortion of the ‘One Country, Two Systems.’”
“It is utterly imperious, unreasonable and shameless for American politicians to obstruct the national security legislation for Hong Kong with threats of sanctions based on U.S. domestic law,” the office said in a statement.
Pompeo’s declaration has thrown Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law into question. Washington could change its current policy, which regards Hong Kong as a separate tariff zone with different export control measures than the mainland.
Facing growing concern over the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s (HKSAR) degree of autonomy, the local government has been offering assurances about the city’s future.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a statement Monday that the legislation “only targets acts of secession, subverting state power and organizing and carrying out terrorist activities, as well as activities interfering with the HKSAR's internal affairs by foreign or external forces.”
Lam said it “will not affect … the independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, exercised by the Judiciary in Hong Kong.”
Business tycoons in Hong Kong including Li Ka-shing, the Asian financial hub’s richest man, have publicly defended the national security law.
Li said in a statement (link in Chinese) Wednesday that “it is within each and every nation’s [sovereign] right to address its national security concerns.”
Citing anonymous sources, Reuters reported on Tuesday that the relevant laws could block foreign judges who have seats in Hong Kong’s courts from handling national security cases.
It could also see both central and city government security agencies establish presences in Hong Kong, the report said.
Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua (email@example.com) and editor Michael Bellart (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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