HK government says will not be cowed by US threats to remove special status

Hong Kong, May 30 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong’s government on Saturday said it would not be cowed by Donald Trump’s threats to strip the territory of its special economic status following China’s bid to roll out a new national security law.

Hong Kong’s security secretary John Lee told local media that “the US won’t win” by using threats against the regional government, adding authorities were doing the correct thing by supporting the new security law drawn up by Beijing.

Justice secretary Teresa Cheng said Washington would be in violation of international law if the US president followed through with his threat to sanction individuals deemed to be aiding the stripping back of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

“The US passed their national security laws; so can China. And therefore it is within the sovereign right of each state to pass relevant national security laws,” Chen said, according to Hong Kong public media outlet RTHK.

Finance secretary Paul Chan said Hong Kong was drawing up a contingency plan in case the US withdrew the region’s special economic status.

In a speech Friday, Trump lambasted the security law that Beijing is planning to apply to the territory. Critics of the national security law say it would effectively curtail any remaining autonomy in the former British colony.

Hong Kong was handed over to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 but its residents retain a considerable level of autonomy from the mainland under the so-called one country, two systems framework.

The new security law would proscribe acts of “subversion” against the Chinese government.

It comes after a year of pro-democracy protests in the financial hub, which first emerged as a response to efforts by local authorities to introduce an extradition law that opponents said would allow China to target dissidents and free speech activists.

Despite weather alerts for an approaching storm, pro-Beijing protesters gathered in front of the US consulate in Hong Kong on Saturday calling for an end to what they see as Washington’s political meddling in the territory.

Pro-democracy protesters, meanwhile, were studying their strategy and urged the international community to back the US’ stance on the matter.

Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist, called on the international community to form an alliance against the new security law, saying: “actions speak louder than words.”

The controversial new security law, passed by lawmakers at China’s annual congress last week, would also take aim at any “foreign interference” in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government supports the initiative and Beijing has warned that any US action would be met with reprisals.

Trump’s decision to remove the special economic status of Hong Kong, if implemented, would seek to damage China’s ability to use the city as a trading post with other nations.

The US president has not said to what extent he plans to remove the status or the 1992 law that sees Washington treat Hong Kong the same way it did when the city was under British rule.EFE-EPA


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