Hong Kong: United States adopts sanctions as world condemns new law


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AFP / Getty

Woman struck by pepper spray on Wednesday in protests in Hong Kong

The US House of Representatives approved new Hong Kong-related sanctions after Beijing imposed a security law that has been condemned by countries around the world.

The measure, which was adopted unanimously, penalizes banks that do business with the Chinese authorities.

It will have to be approved by the Senate before being sent to President Trump.

Critics claim that Chinese law ended guaranteed freedoms for 50 years when the British government ended in 1997.

“The law is a brutal and radical crackdown on the people of Hong Kong, aimed at destroying the freedoms promised to them,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared the adoption of the law a “clear and serious violation” of the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration.

Under this declaration, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, with certain freedoms guaranteed for at least 50 years under the “one country, two systems” agreement.

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China has said the security law is necessary to stop the type of protests seen in Hong Kong for much of 2019.

And despite the condemnation in the West, more than 50 countries, led by Cuba, supported China at the UN this week.

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Media captionHundreds Arrested As Hong Kong National Security Law Comes Into Force

What does American law say?

The Hong Kong Self-Government Act imposes sanctions on banks that do business with Chinese officials involved in the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Pelosi said law was “urgent response [China’s passing] of its so-called “national security” law … which was specially designed to dismantle democratic freedoms in Hong Kong “.

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Before the bill was signed, the United States had already begun to remove Hong Kong’s special status – to halt exports of defense products and to restrict the territory’s access to high-tech products.

Last year, the United States also passed human rights and democracy law, supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

What have other countries said?

The UK has said it will offer up to three million Hong Kong residents the opportunity to settle there and ultimately apply for full British nationality.

Australia is also “actively considering” offering refuge to Hong Kong residents – Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there are proposals that will be “soon examined by cabinet”.

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Media captionDominic Raab says China is “in clear and serious violation” of the joint declaration

Japan is among the other countries that have spoken out against the law, calling it “unfortunate”.

“It would undermine confidence in the principle” one country, two systems “,” said Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

European Council President Charles Michel “deplored” the law – adding that it had “a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law”.

And Canada changed its travel advice to Hong Kong, saying the new law “increases the risk of arbitrary detention for reasons of national security and possible extradition to mainland China.”

A senior Chinese official yesterday criticized foreign critics, saying that Hong Kong’s business was “not your business.”

Have all countries been critical?

No. At the United Nations this week, Cuba – on behalf of 53 countries – praised the law.

Speaking at the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, he said: “Non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states is an essential principle enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

“We believe that every country has the right to protect its national security through legislation, and welcome the relevant steps taken to that end. “

How has the new law been used so far?

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Police flag warns protesters against new law

Just hours after the law was passed, Hong Kong police made their first arrests.

Ten people have been charged with violating the new law, including a man with a pro-independence flag. About 360 other people were arrested at a banned rally.

Under the new law, hate speech by the Chinese central government and the Hong Kong regional government is an offense.

Acts including damage to public transport facilities – which often occurred during the 2019 protests – can be considered terrorism.


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