Politics

Chinese security law death-knell for Hong Kong, pro-democracy leaders say

Hong Kong, May 28 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition on Friday lashed out against the Chinese parliament approving a national security bill for the city and said it could mean the end of the semi-autnonomous region as we know it.

Public broadcaster RTHK reported that lawmakers of the pro-democracy consider the bill passed earlier on Friday by China’s National People’s Congress to be a ploy of reducing Hong Kong to the same status as any other city in mainland China.

The bill was passed by a 2,878 to 1 vote in the closing session of the NPC, with six abstentions.

“Of those 2,878 people, how many of them have never been to Hong Kong? Or seen the situation in Hong Kong?” said Alvin Yeung, leader of the Civic Party, according to RTHK.

Hong Kong First party lawmaker Claudia Mo said that the law marked the “beginning of a sad and traumatizing era for Hong Kong.”

“They’ve practically taken away our soul, our soul being the values we’ve been treasuring all these years: rule of law, human rights.”

Another lawmaker, Labour Party’s Fernando Cheung, said that the bill effectively meant the end of the “One country, Two systems” structure that ensured Hong Kong’s autonomy and said the city had entered a “dark period” of “One Country, One System.”

.Outside the Hong Kong Legislative Council, pro-democracy group Demosisto accused Beijng of trying to destroy Hong Kong, and warned that the law could result in countries such as the United States withdrawing the preferential economic status of the city compared to the rest of China.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told the US Congress that Hong Kong could no longer be considered autonomous.

Demosisto leader Joshua Wong predicted that Washington could impose unilateral economic sanctions on the region, calling it a “tragic but necessary step.”

Meanwhile Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam expectedly backed the Beijing line and said the NPC decision was a mark of China’s concern towards the special administrative region.

She insisted that the legislation would only punish “an extremely small minority” that threatens national security and would not affect the rights and freedoms of the rest of the residents.

Hong Kong’s Basic Law – a mini-constitution – stipulates that the city authorities establish a similar national security law, but they have been unable to do so since 1997 due to widespread opposition.

Beijing finally lost patience and decided to impose the current legislation, which includes a clause that allows it to annex new norms to the Basic Law.

The national security bill seeks to, “prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and to prohibit political organizations or bodies of the HKSAR from establishing ties with foreign political organizations or bodies.”

After being approved by the NPC, the bill will now be handed over to a legal committee tasked with preparing a final draft, to be ratified by the standing committee of the NPC.

Hong Kong’s opposition parties fear that it could result in a curtailment of rights in retaliation for months of anti-government protests in the city, which sometimes led to clashes between the police and protesters and violent disturbances. EFE-EPA

hk-vec/ia

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