United States chides China on Hong Kong

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing at the State Department on Wednesday

FILE- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington

Protesters holding banners in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators attend a rally against the Chinese government's newly announced national security legislation for Hong Kong, at Taipei main train station in Taiwan May 23, 2020.

China's rubber-stamp parliament will vote next week on the proposal, following massive democracy protests that rocked the city a year ago and infuriated Beijing.

Wang Chen, vice chairman of the National People's Congress, said the protests and violence in Hong Kong had challenged the "one country, two systems" principle and the aim of the legislation was to stop any behavior that posed potential security threats.

The Chinese central government is preparing to set up national security agencies in Hong Kong to enhance information collection and evidence-based dealing against acts of "splitting the country, subverting state power, organising and perpetrating terrorist activities" as it accelerated efforts to formulate the national security legislation, state-run Global Times reported on Saturday.

In a significant move in relation to Hong Kong, the ongoing session of China's National People's Congress is considering national security laws specific to the special administrative region.

"The Chinese have taken off the gloves in Hong Kong", said Bonnie Glaser, who directs the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and has advised the USA government.

Zhang Jian, director of Hong Kong/Macau Department of Shanghai International Studies Institute, offered a contradictory stand, telling VOA that Hong Kong's independence movement and "foreign forces" involvement make the new national security legislation urgent and necessary.

The bill, among the most controversial items on the agenda of the National People's Congress in years, drew strong rebukes from the United States government and rights groups. After all, Hong Kong's mini-constitution or Basic Law entails Article 23 which says that the city must enact national security laws.

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People are concerned this affect free speech their right to protest - which is now legal in Hong Kong. We're going to crack down. Although details remain secret, a similar security bill withdrawn in 2003 carried life sentences and drew massive street protests. The two governments agreed China would reassume control of Hong Kong from July 1, 1997. "Everything is possible, but the goal is clear - to recall mass rally", the 23-year-old designer said.

In recent years, the disappearance of people from Hong Kong, including financier Xiao Jianhua, has fueled concerns about the strength of legal protections guaranteed after the city's return to Chinese rule in 1997. But on the point of democracy, it is now clear that Beijing believes Hong Kong has too much freedom. "I didn't expect Hong Kong would deteriorate that quickly".

Pro-democracy activists and politicians in Hong Kong have, for years, opposed such legislation.

Former Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-Ying pointed to large USA investments in mainland China despite national security laws there.

If there were sanctions associated with any national laws to be included in the annex, Professor Chan says it should go through Hong Kong's parliament because the judicial systems are so different.

The State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Beijing's top-level body overseeing the city, said the law would "build a firm institutional foundation for the stability and longevity of "One Country, Two Systems".

What does this mean for "One country, Two systems"?

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has described it as a "death knell" for the city's autonomy.

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