China rejects UK, US criticism over planned Hong Kong security law change

China rejects UK, US criticism over planned Hong Kong security law change
China rejects UK, US criticism over planned Hong Kong security law change

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Members of the League of Social Democrats hold up a banner which reads ‘Without democracy, there can be no livelihood, Put the people above the country, human rights above the regime, There can be no national security without democracy and human rights.’ outside the Central Government offices in Hong Kong. — AFP pic

HONG KONG, March 1 — Chinese authorities in Hong Kong yesterday hit back at comments from the United States and Britain on a proposed new national security law they said would curtail freedoms there.

Massive pro-democracy protests rocked Hong Kong in 2019, bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the streets to call for greater freedoms.

In response, Beijing imposed a national security law to punish four major crimes — secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces — with sentences ranging up to life in prison.

Hong Kong officials said last month a further homegrown security law was needed to plug “loopholes”. Justice chief Paul Lam said he had heard no objections during a month of public consultations that ended Wednesday.


“We are particularly concerned by Hong Kong authorities’ proposal to adopt broad and vague definitions of ‘state secrets’ and ‘external interference’ that could be used to eliminate dissent through the fear of arrest and detention,” US State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement Wednesday.

They were also concerned that Hong Kong officials would use the measure “extraterritorially in their ongoing campaign of transnational repression,” Miller added.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government on Thursday rebuffed the US comments, Chinese state media Xinhua reported.


An SAR spokesperson said the United States had its own national security laws were applied outside its borders.

‘Vicious smearing’

Britain’s foreign minister David Cameron had urged the government in Hong Kong “to re-consider their proposals and engage in genuine and meaningful consultation with the people of Hong Kong”.

Britain is the former colonial power in Hong Kong, handing over control to China in 1997.

The joint declaration that set the terms of the handover stipulated that for 50 years, Hong Kong would “maintain a high degree of autonomy and that the rights and freedoms... would continue”.

Cameron said: “As a co-signatory to the Joint Declaration, the UK has a responsibility to ensure that those rights and freedoms are maintained.”

China’s foreign affairs commissioner in Hong Kong condemned Cameron’s statement as “irresponsible” and “vicious smearing”.

“The UK does not have sovereign power, governing power or supervision power over the post-handover Hong Kong,” the commissioner’s spokesperson said Thursday.

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau also rejected Cameron’s “biased and erroneous remarks” in a statement Thursday.

Nearly 99 per cent of response to the public consultation had been positive, said Secretary for Security Chris Tang. Several of the objections came from “overseas anti-China organisations or abscondees”, he added.

“The UK has more than 10 draconian laws to defend its national security, hence Cameron’s remarks have shown his double standards,” Tang argued.

Under its mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, Hong Kong is required to pass its own law combating seven security-related crimes, including treason and espionage.

The last legislative attempt in 2003 was shelved after half a million Hong Kongers took to the streets to protest the move.

However, since the imposition of Beijing’s security law in 2020, most requests for protest permits have been denied, and those who demonstrate anyway have often faced prosecution. — AFP

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