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Pompeo decries China's security law as 'death knell' for Hong Kong autonomy

Iran Press TV

Friday, 22 May 2020 3:11 PM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blasted China for the imposition of a new security law on Hong Kong, claiming that the measure could be a "death knell" for the city's autonomy.

On Friday, China introduced into the country's parliament new legislation that would impose a national security law on Hong Kong as part of measures aimed at restoring calm to the semi-autonomous city after seven months of fierce anti-government protests last year.

The draft said the security law would "guard against, stop and punish any separatism, subversion of the national regime, terrorist group activities and such behaviors that seriously harm national security."

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam said in a statement later that the local government would "fully cooperate" with Beijing over the national security, and added that the law was aimed at "effectively preventing and curbing actions that seriously endanger national security."

"The decision to bypass Hong Kong's well-established legislative processes and ignore the will of the people of Hong Kong would be a death knell for the high degree of autonomy Beijing promised for Hong Kong," Pompeo claimed in a statement.

The US secretary of state said the "disastrous proposal" could lead the United States to decline to certify Hong Kong as autonomous under a new US law.

"The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations, and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions and civil liberties, which are key to preserving its special status under US law," Pompeo said.

"Any decision impinging on Hong Kong's autonomy and freedoms as guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law would inevitably impact our assessment of One Country, Two Systems and the status of the territory," he added.

The US secretary of state slammed on Wednesday China's handling of the city and its months-long anti-government protests, claiming that the treatment of what he called activists in Hong Kong complicated the assessment of whether the territory remained autonomous.

The semi-autonomous Chinese territory was rocked by turbulent protests starting in June last year, when some citizens across the city began protesting against a proposed extradition bill. The proposal has since been withdrawn.

The protesters often heavily vandalized shops and public property and attacked citizens believed to be pro-government. However, since the government imposed a ban on public meetings at the end of March to curb the coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong has been relatively calm.

There was only one instance of unrest when Hong Kong riot police dispersed a crowd of 300 protesters late last month.

More than 7,000 people have been taken into custody for their involvement in the protests since June last year, with many having been charged with rioting, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The Chinese government says the United States and Britain have been fanning the flames of unrest in Hong Kong by supporting the protesters.

Hong Kong has been governed under the "one-country, two-system" model since the city – a former British colony – was returned to China in 1997.



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