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Iran Press TV

Trump slams China over Hong Kong security law, threatens severe action

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 31 May 2020 2:01 AM

US President Donald Trump has slammed China over the recently-passed national security law by the legislative council in the former British colony of Hong Kong, claiming that Beijing had broken its word regarding the city's autonomy and vowing that the territory no longer warranted US economic privileges.

"We will take action to revoke Hong Kong's preferential treatment as a separate customs and travel territory from the rest of China," Trump said, further threatening to impose sanctions on individuals seen as responsible for "smothering - absolutely smothering - Hong Kong's freedom."

The US president also told reporters at the White House that approval of the security bill in Hong Kong amounted to a tragedy for the world, but offered no timetable for the threatened measures, leading the city's residents, businesses and officials to contemplate just how far his administration will go.

"China has replaced One Country, Two Systems with One Country, One System", he further claimed in a prepared statement that attacked Beijing on several fronts. "This is a tragedy for Hong Kong... China has smothered Hong Kong's freedom."

The development came after Hong Kong's legislature debated and passed the Beijing-proposed bill on Wednesday that criminalizes sedition, secession and subversion against the mainland. It would further pave the way for Chinese national security institutions to operate in the city for the first time since 1997, when Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule.

The bill also requires that China's national anthem – known as "March of the Volunteers" – be taught in schools and sung by organizations, and imposes jail terms or fines against those who disrespect it.

Beijing insists the new bill – due to become law by September – does not pose a threat to Hong Kong's autonomy and the interests of foreign investors, noting that it is merely meant to prevent terrorism and foreign interference there, as was evident in violent, Western-backed protest rallies there against the mainland.

Trump also added that the State Department would revise its travel advisory for Hong Kong in light of what he referred to as "increased danger of surveillance" from China.

China slams Trump's move on Hong Kong, cites dismal US rights record

In response, senior Hong Kong government officials blasted Trump's threat to strip the city of its special status in a bid to punish China for enacting national security laws on the global financial hub.

Speaking hours after Trump said the city no longer warranted economic privileges and some officials could face sanctions, Security Minister John Lee said in a Saturday press briefing that Hong Kong's government could not be threatened and would push ahead with the new laws.

"I don't think they will succeed in using any means to threaten the (Hong Kong) government, because we believe what we are doing is right," Lee said.

The city's Justice Minister Teresa Cheng further said the basis for Trump's actions was "completely false and wrong", insisting that the need for national security laws were legal and necessary.

Meanwhile, diplomats at the United Nations said Russia and China have responded during Security Council discussions on Friday by criticizing Washington over the Minneapolis killing of an unarmed African American man - who was seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck - and its handling of growing unrest.

"Why US denies China's right to restore peace & order in Hong Kong while brutally dispersing crowds at home?" Russia's deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy posted on Twitter after the council discussion.

China's UN ambassador Zhang Jun also said in a statement after the meeting that the US and UK should "mind their own business," adding that: "Any attempt to use Hong Kong to interfere in China's internal matters is doomed to fail."

Beijing rejects US interference

On Thursday, China dismissed US attempts at the United Nations to have the UN Security Council (UNSC) hold a meeting over Beijing's proposed national security law for Hong Kong, emphasizing that the issue was an internal matter.

During a UNSC meeting on Wednesday, US and Chinese envoys traded barbs over the imposition of the law on the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

China "categorically rejects the baseless request" because the national security legislation for Hong Kong was an internal matter and "has nothing to do with the mandate of the Security Council," China's UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said later on Twitter.

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