China approves Hong Kong national security law
China’s legislature on Monday passed a controversial national security law critics say further strips Hong Kong of its autonomy from Beijing.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress approved the law, which will criminalize foreign interference, subversion and secession, The Associated Press reported. President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order promulgating the law shortly thereafter, according to the AP, which cited the state Xinhua News Agency.
Activists and critics of China’s government have warned the measure, which follows months of anti-government protests in the city, would severely undermine the autonomy of Hong Kong granted under the 1997 British handover of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam defended the legislation in a video message to the United Nations Human Rights Council, saying it would “only target an extremely small minority” of suspects and only give Beijing legal authority in “rare, specified situations.”
Both the U.S. and international human rights groups have condemned the law, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Hong Kong will no longer be subject to special trade terms granted due to its “one country, two systems” arrangement.
The Trump administration said Monday it will ban defense exports to the city and begin mandating licenses for the sale of products with potential military applications, the AP noted.
“We cannot risk these items falling into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army, whose primary purpose is to uphold the dictatorship of the [Communist Party] by any means necessary,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The law “represents the greatest threat to human rights in the city’s recent history,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty International’s China Team, according to the AP.
“The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully,” Rosenzweig said in a statement.
Demonstrators frequently called for Lam’s resignation after she introduced a bill, later withdrawn, that would have allowed the extradition of some criminal suspects to China.