(TibetanReview.net, May24’20) – More than 200 parliamentarians and policymakers from 23 countries have issued a joint statement, condemning Beijing’s move to introduce a national security law for Hong Kong and calling for governments to raise a voice against it, reported scmp.com and others May 24.China’s foreign ministry office in Hong Kong has hit back by accusing “certain countries of making ‘irresponsible comments’ about law.”
In their joint statement, the signatories have expressed concerns over Beijing’s resolution at the opening of its annual legislative sessions on May 22 to “prevent, frustrate and punish” threats to national security by outlawing acts of secession, subversion and terrorism in Hong Kong.
The proposed law will bypass the city’s legislature. It will require the Hong Kong government to set up new institutions to safeguard Chinese sovereignty and allow the mainland’s agencies to operate in the city when needed.
The joint statement hits out at Beijing for ‘unilateral introduction’ of the law and says the ‘integrity of one-country, two-systems hangs by a thread’.
The proposed laws will require the Hong Kong government to set up new institutions to safeguard Chinese sovereignty and allow the mainland’s agencies to operate in the city when needed. Hong Kong pro-chief Chief executive carrie Lam has vowed “full support” for the new law.
The “one country, two systems” has been the blueprint that has guided Hong Kong since its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997. China has been accused of eroding the “two systems” aspect of the handover deal by a series of legislative and other measures designed to increase control and restrictions to enhance the primacy of Chinese rule in the supposedly special administrative region.
The signatories were led by Hong Kong’s last colonial governor Chris Patten; former British foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind; US senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and Marco Rubio; 12 US congressmen; dozens of British MPs; as well as parliamentarians from Europe, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Malaysia.
“This is a comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms. The integrity of one-country, two-systems hangs by a thread,” the signatories have written.
Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng has assured local deputies to Beijing’s top advisory body on May 23 that the new law would only target “a small group of people” to plug a legal loophole exposed by violent anti-government protests that erupted in the city last year.
While noting that the protests were driven by genuine grievances of ordinary Hongkongers, the signatories have said, “Draconian laws will only escalate the situation further, jeopardising Hong Kong’s future as an open Chinese international city.”
The joint statement further says: “If the international community cannot trust Beijing to keep its word when it comes to Hong Kong, people will be reluctant to take its word on other matters. Sympathetic governments must unite to say that this flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration cannot be tolerated.”
The report noted that the statement by overseas politicians had come after the foreign ministers of Britain, Australia and Canada had issued a joint statement, stressing the Sino-British Joint Declaration – the agreement signed by Britain and China in 1984 that paved the way for Hong Kong’s handover – remained legally binding, and the European Union called for the need to preserve the city’s autonomy.