US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today condemned the national security law that China wants to impose on Hong Kong, calling it "a fatal blow" to the territory's autonomy.
"The United States calls on Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, honor its international commitments and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, its democratic institutions and its civil liberties," the White House representative said in a statement today disclosed.
China's highest legislative body, the National People's Assembly, will in the next few days pass a law on “protecting national security” in Hong Kong that will limit opposition activity, parliamentary spokesman Zhang announced today Yesui.
The bill aims to ban "betrayal, secession, rebellion [and] subversion" in Hong Kong, in response to the pro-democracy protests that have shaken the former British colony since last year.
The US Secretary of State condemned the initiative, considering an “unilateral and arbitrary” imposition and guaranteed that, if China does not go back, the United States will not certify the respect of the commitments assumed by Beijing under the Joint Declaration British, which has governed the autonomous status of the former British colony since it returned to control of China in 1997.
This certification, which the United States Government is due to provide to the United States Congress soon, allows Hong Kong to obtain preferential status, mainly in commercial matters.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said today that she is ready to "cooperate fully" with Beijing to enforce the law and guaranteed that the bill "does not affect the legitimate rights and freedoms enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong".
For Carrie Lam, the intervention of the Chinese parliament in the constitutional affairs of the territory is justified by the violence that occurred during the demonstrations last year.
Lam is in Beijing on the occasion of the opening of the annual session of the National People's Assembly, which will vote on the bill on Thursday.
Article 23 of the Basic Law, the Hong Kong mini-constitution, stipulates that the city should proceed with legislation in this direction, but this has proved difficult, given the resistance of the Hong Kong population, who fear a reduction in their freedoms.
In mainland China, courts often resort to national security law, including for accusations of "separatism" or "subversion of state power", to arrest dissidents or activists who defy Chinese Communist Party rule.
Hong Kong was returned by the United Kingdom to China in 1997 and the formula 'one country, two systems', also used in Macau, was applied in the territory, which guarantees the two regions a high degree of autonomy at the executive, legislative and judicial levels.
Hong Kong has been the scene of demonstrations for six months, started in protest against a proposal to amend the extradition law, which would allow criminals to be extradited to countries without prior agreements, such as mainland China.
The Hong Kong Government eventually withdrew the proposal, yielding to one of the demands of the protesters. But the decision was not enough to stop anti-government protests in favor of democratic reforms and against Beijing's alleged growing interference in the territory.