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China-US tensions worsen as Beijing passes Hong Kong security law

China on Tuesday passed a controversial national security law that hands its government greater powers over Hong Kong, adding to tensions between Beijing and Washington.

The law — which comes after mass protests in the semi-autonomous territory and prohibits acts of secession and subversion, among other offenses — passed unanimously in the National People’s Congress, “within 15 minutes of the meeting,” the South China Morning Post reported.

It is expected to come into effect on July 1, which marks the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from British colonial rule in 1997. In a treaty signed at the time, the U.K. and China agreed Hong Kong would for 50 years be guaranteed certain rights that are not applicable in mainland China, a principle known as “one country, two systems.”

Beijing’s new law prompted concerns that it will erode Hong Kong’s special freedoms as guaranteed under the treaty and threaten the territory’s judicial independence.

China’s move is also adding to tensions with the United States. “If Beijing now treats Hong Kong as ‘One Country, One System,’ so must we,” U.S. Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo said on Twitter on Monday, adding that Washington would thus stop the export of American military equipment and technology to Hong Kong.

The foreign ministry in Beijing responded by announcing it would impose visa restrictions on “U.S. personnel who have behaved egregiously on Hong Kong-related issues.” Meanwhile, at a media briefing Tuesday morning, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam refused to answer questions on the new national security law.

Pompeo later posted another tweet, saying that “the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to restrict visas for U.S. citizens is the latest example of Beijing’s refusal to accept responsibility for breaking its commitment to the people of Hong Kong.”

“We will not be deterred from taking action to respond,” he added.

By Tuesday morning, no statement on the events had come from Brussels, but earlier this month the EU voiced “grave concerns at steps taken by China to impose national security legislation from Beijing,” adding that passing the law would breach Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

The U.K.’s Foreign Office said on Tuesday: “We are deeply concerned by unconfirmed reports that Beijing has passed the national security law. This would be a grave step,” adding that another statement would follow once they had seen “the full legislation.”

Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/china-us-conflict-worsens-as-beijing-passes-controversial-security-law-for-hong-kong/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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