(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong police warned protesters against unauthorized marches against China’s plans to impose a sweeping national security law, as the measure drew criticism from the U.S., the U.K. and other Western governments.
The foreign ministers of the U.K., Australia and Canada said they were “deeply concerned” by China’s proposal, while U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called it “disastrous” and urged Beijing to reconsider. The State Department underlined Pompeo’s concerns on Saturday.
China said it will introduce a law to prevent and punish any acts of secession, subversion or terrorism in the city that threaten national security. Pro-democracy activists say the move endangers the future of “one country, two systems,” the principle by which the Asian financial hub is overseen by Beijing.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the city fully cooperate with China to enact the legislation. The city would fully cooperate with China to enact the legislation, she said.would cooperate with Her comments are likely to anger demonstrators and fuel protests that have resurged in recent weeks following months of disruption leveled by the coronavirus. Already, demonstrators have called for rallies against Beijing-backed legislation, including a bill that would criminalize disrespecting China’s national anthem, on Sunday and Wednesday.
U.K., Australia and Canada have “deep concern” over planPompeo condemns China’s plan to impose legislationBiden says U.S. “should not remain silent”U.K. says China must respect city’s freedomsChina says no country has right to interfere in Hong Kong
Here’s the latest (all times local):
State Reiterates Pompeo ‘Watching’ Comment (12:08 p.m)
The U.S. State Department featured comments made by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on May 20 in a fresh Twitter post on Saturday: A decision on “whether or not to certify Hong Kong as having ‘a high degree of autonomy’ from China is still pending,” Pompeo said. “We’re watching closely what’s going on there.”
Hong Kongers Won’t be Whisked Over Border, Official Says (2 p.m)
The new security legislation won’t be used to whisk people over the border to China, Maria Tam, vice chairwoman of the Chinese parliamentary committee that oversees Hong Kong’s law, said in an interview.
Tam acknowledged that some details of the sweeping legislation expected to soon be passed by the National People’s Congress had yet to be decided.
“The Hong Kong opposition has always reaped the benefit of striking fear in the minds of the Hong Kong people and asking them not to trust China,” Tam said by phone. “And so this is political capital, and I would be surprised if they don’t cash in on it. But I don’t think it’s going to happen that way.”
Police Warn of unauthorized marches (2:50 p.m.)
Officers will be deployed around Hong Kong on Sunday at locations where unauthorized marches are due to take place and will arrest demonstrators if necessary, according to a post on the police Facebook page.
The police urged residents not to take part in gatherings that are not approved, according to the post.
They also warned that anyone who gathers in groups of more than eight would violate the city’s social-distancing measures, which pro-democracy advocates have complained are suppressing lawful protests.
China tries to reassure city officials (12:35 p.m.)
China tried to ease fears over the proposed legislation in a meeting between central government officials and city representatives, Radio Television Hong Kong reported, citing attendees.
Vice Premier Han Zheng said at the meeting in Beijing that Beijing hoped to ensure the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people were protected and maintained, RTHK said, citing local Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member Thomas So. There would be a consultation process, the news agency quoted him as saying.
Law is ‘anti-virus’ software for city: People’s Daily (Saturday 7:35 a.m.)
China’s proposed security law for Hong Kong was “anti-virus software” for the city to enhance law and order, and to build a stable foundation for the principle of one country, two systems, the Communist Party-owned People’s Daily said in an online commentary on Saturday.
The anti-extradition bill movement responsible for protests in the city was the cause of the National People’s Congress introducing the security-law legislation, it said.
U.K. Australia, Canada foreign ministers express concern (11:45 p.m.)
“Making such a law on Hong Kong’s behalf without the direct participation of its people, legislature or judiciary would clearly undermine the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, under which Hong Kong is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy,” according to joint statement from U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne.
The U.K., Australia and Canada are “deeply concerned” at China’s proposals for introducing the legislation.
Hassett warns of capital flight if laws enacted (10:39 a.m.)
White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett called China’s move “very unacceptable to the U.S. government” and predicted it would backfire on Beijing.
“They’re going to see a lot of economic harm from what they’re doing, because if I had capital to invest, would you really want to invest it in a place where they’re basically, you know, sneering at the rule of law the way they are right now?” he said Friday in an interview on Fox Business Network.
“I would expect that they’re going to have serious capital flight problems in Hong Kong, if they follow through this, they will no longer be the financial center of Asia, and that they themselves will pay very, very heavy costs,” he added.
China must respect Hong Kong’s freedoms, U.K. says (9:23 p.m.)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the British government wants to clarify exactly what China has proposed — but warned it expects Beijing to respect the autonomy Hong Kong is due.
“We expect China to respect Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms and high degree of autonomy,” Johnson’s spokesman James Slack told reporters. The U.K. remains committed to upholding Hong Kong’s autonomy under the joint declaration, Slack said.
The U.K. has previously said there will need to be a reassessment of relations with China in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak. On Friday, the government unveiled a plan to diversify supply chains, potentially reducing Britain’s reliance on China for some medical materials.
Lam says law will help stop local terrorism (9 p.m.)
The legislation wouldn’t affect capitalism and could bolster business confidence in Hong Kong, Lam said at a briefing.
Citizens should view the law “positively” and said there was urgent need for the measure, the chief Executive said.
“The enforcement of national security legislation won’t affect Hong Kong’s capitalism and the law will also protect foreign investors’ interests in H.K.,” she said. “The legislation will also help Hong Kong to effectively nip local terrorism that may jeopardize national security in the bud and make Hong Kong a safer and more stable city.”
Biden says U.S. should condemn China over Hong Kong (8:59 p.m.)
Likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said the U.S. should be pushing world powers to condemn China over its moves to take greater control of Hong Kong. In an interview with CNBC, he said the U.S. silence on Hong Kong has been “devastating.”
“We should not remain silent,” Biden said. “We should be calling the rest of the world to condemn their actions.”
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U.S. condemns China’s plan to impose legislation on Hong Kong (8:30 p.m.)
The U.S. condemns China’s “proposal to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose national security legislation on Hong Kong,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in an emailed statement. “The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal.”
“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 under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed agreement,” the statement said.
President Donald Trump had earlier warned that the U.S. would respond to the planned move in Beijing, amid escalating tensions between the two powers. “I don’t know what it is because nobody knows yet,” he told reporters at the White House about the possible Chinese actions. “If it happens, we’ll address that issue very strongly.”
Activist Joshua Wong calls on international community (7:28 p.m.)
Wong, one of the city’s most prominent activists, distributed fliers with a group of others outside the Hung Hom train station in Kowloon during the Friday evening rush hour. “We urge China to withdraw the evil bill,” he said, adding that it was “eroding the fundamental freedom of Hong Kongers.”
Wong called on the global community to stand with the financial hub and said it was “time” for the U.S. to implement the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
HKMA says it’ll maintain HKD stability (6:55 p.m.)
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority — the city’s de facto central bank — “will maintain HKD exchange rate stability in accordance with the Linked Exchange Rate System,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. The HKMA will continue to monitor market developments, the statement said.
Security laws endanger Hong Kong’s international status, Taiwan says (4:13 p.m.)
Laws that harm democracy, human rights and Hong Kong’s freedom under the guise of national security will increase societal instability and heighten risks for international citizens in the city, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in an emailed statement. It urged authorities to prevent greater chaos in Hong Kong and not make the “wrong decision.”
‘No country has the right’ (3:49 p.m.)
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian held a regular daily news conference in Beijing, saying that national security in Hong Kong was “purely” an internal affair. “No country has the right to interfere,” he said.
“National security is the bedrock for a country’s survival and development,” Zhao added. “No country will allow separatist activities and other activities endangering national security on its territory.”
The foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong earlier issued a separate statement saying the security legislation would target only a small number of people who are endangering national security. It also said it hoped international society would hold a “fair and objective” view of the NPC’s decision.
Japan stresses ‘one country, two systems’ (3:01 p.m.)
“Hong Kong is an extremely important partner for our country, with close economic ties and exchange of people,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Friday afternoon. “It is very important for Hong Kong to prosper stably on the basis of ‘one country, two systems.’ I want to emphasize this again.
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