HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong media report that China has passed a controversial law that would allow authorities to tackle persistent and secrecy activities in Hong Kong, raising fears that it would be used to vote the opposition’s votes in the semi-autonomous sector to curb area.
The South China Morning Post newspaper and public broadcaster RTHK, both of which cite unnamed sources, said the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress voted unanimously to adopt a national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday.
There was no official confirmation from the central government in Beijing or Hong Kong officials.
Hungarian leader Carrie Lam declined to comment on the law at a weekly meeting with reporters, as it was inappropriate for her to do so while the Standing Committee was still in session.
She did say that once the law is passed, “the Hong Kong government will announce it and propagate it for implementation here, and then me and my senior officials will do our best to respond to everyone’s questions, especially regarding the enforcement of this national law. ‘
The legislation aims to curb subversive, separatist and terrorist activities and foreign interference in the affairs of the city. It follows months of protests against the government that sometimes subsided in violent Hong Kong last year.
The law has met with strong opposition in Hong Kong and has been condemned by former colonial ruler Britain, the US, the European Union and others.
Human rights groups have warned that the law could target opposition politicians who are considered insufficiently loyal to Beijing for arrest or denial of elections to the Legislative Council in September.
Prior to the announcement, the Trump administration said Monday it will ban defense exports to Hong Kong and will soon need licenses to sell items to Hong Kong that have both civilian and military uses.
The government has warned for weeks that if the law were passed it would take action to end the special US trade and trade preferences Hong Kong had enjoyed since it fell back into Chinese hands in 1997.
“The United States is being forced to take this action to protect US national security,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China. We cannot risk that these items fall into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army, whose main purpose is to uphold the dictatorship of the (ruling Communist Party) in every possible way. ‘
The United States Senate unanimously passed a bill Thursday to impose sanctions on companies and individuals – including the police – who undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy or curtail the freedoms promised to residents.
Britain says it can provide approximately 3 million of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents with residence and possible citizenship.
China has denounced all these measures, such as gross interference in its internal affairs and Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that Beijing has decided to retaliate against visa restrictions for “US personnel performing poorly in Hong Kong related issues “.
“The US side’s attempt to prevent China from promoting Hong Kong’s national security laws through the so-called sanctions will never succeed,” Zhao told reporters daily.
China decided to use the National People’s Congress to enact legislation after opposition within the Hong Kong Legislative Council, and within society at large made it impossible to transmit at the local level.
The law has so far been seen as the major erosion of the British rule of law in Hong Kong and the high degree of autonomy China promised that Hong Kong would enjoy at least until 2047 under the “one country, two systems” framework.
If the legislation is adopted, the central government in Beijing may also set up a national security agency in Hong Kong to gather and analyze intelligence and handle criminal matters related to national security.
Moritsugu reported from Beijing.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.