The Chinese Communist Party is facing mounting criticism as it pushes through legislation in Hong Kong to impose a security measures that would make it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority.
It was a stunning turn of events and forced U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday to declare that Hong Kong is “no longer autonomous from China.”
China’s actions were rebuked by the United States, the UK, Australia and Canada on Friday. All the nations have condemned the legislation, while President Donald Trump is expected to announce his administration’s response to the escalation in the territory later this afternoon.
Thus far, China appears to have rejected foreign criticism.
By law, Hong Kong has some freedoms – of the press and association – not guaranteed on the mainland.
These are a legacy of the agreement under which Hong Kong was handed back from the UK to China in 1997.
New national security legislation was introduced this week prior to the start of the annual National People’s Congress legislative session, the national legislator of the People’s Republic of China and a “rubber stamp” of the Communist Party of China.
The laws that were proposed would essentially disregard Hong Kong’s legislature and expand the power of Communist China’s intelligence agencies in the city, which will help China suppress political opposition.
Secretary Pompeo reiterated that “the United States stands with the people of Hong Kong.”
Today, I reported to Congress that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, given facts on the ground. The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 27, 2020
In a release Wednesday, Pompeo said, “the State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China. After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997.”
Pompeo added that “Hong Kong and its dynamic, enterprising, and free people have flourished for decades as a bastion of liberty, and this decision gives me no pleasure. But sound policy making requires a recognition of reality. While the United States once hoped that free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself.”
Hong Kong is part of China but its citizens have had more autonomy than those on the mainland. It has a free press and judicial independence under the so-called “one country, two systems” approach, but that is all in jeopardy now.