China’s enactment of a national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday drew statements of deep concern and regret from abroad and a firm defense at home.
The law has fueled a widening divide between China and the United States and some other countries over the future of Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory that Britain handed over to Beijing in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework.
It criminalizes separatist activity, subversion, terrorist acts and foreign influence in Hong Kong affairs.
“It is regrettable that the national security law was enacted despite strong concerns shared among the international society and the people of Hong Kong,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said. ”It will undermine trust for the principle of ‘one country, two systems.’ ”
“We are deeply concerned by unconfirmed reports that Beijing has passed the national security law. This would be a grave step,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. “Once we have seen the full legislation, we will make a further statement.”
“It will only target an extremely small minority of people who have breached the law, while the life and property, basic rights and freedoms of the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong residents will be protected,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said. “The legislation will not undermine ‘one country, two systems’ and Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.”
“This issue is purely China’s internal affairs, and no foreign country has the right to interfere,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said. “The Chinese government is unswervingly determined to safeguard the interests of national sovereignty, security and development, to implement the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, and to oppose any external force interfering in Hong Kong affairs.”
“China promised that Hong Kong would remain unchanged for 50 years. The adoption of the National Security Law makes people feel that this commitment is indeed a blow to public confidence,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said. “We are disappointed that China cannot fulfill its commitments, which also proves that the ‘one country, two systems’ is not feasible.”
FORMER COLONIAL GOV. CHRIS PATTEN:
The last British colonial governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, said “this decision, which rides roughshod over Hong Kong’s elected legislature, marks the end of ‘one-country, two-systems’. … It will throttle the city’s rule of law, presenting a major confrontation between what passes for law in China and the common law system in Hong Kong which has allowed the city to function as one of the most important financial hubs in Asia.”
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