The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has approved a proposal to go forward with national security legislation in Hong Kong even as the Trump administration has warned of sanctions against Beijing because the measure could endanger the city’s autonomy.
The annual National People’s Congress session in Beijing on Thursday, May 28, approved the draft decision by a vote of 2,878-1, with six abstentions, Time reported.
Chinese officials can now take time to sort out the details of laws tackling subversion, secession, terrorism, and foreign interference in Hong Kong before handing them to the city’s Beijing-backed administration to promulgate.
However, democracy activists in Hong Kong and Western countries fear the legislation could endanger its special autonomy and freedoms, according to Reuters.
The move comes one day after the Trump administration said that it could no longer certify Hong Kong’s autonomy from China, which was promised before the British handed the city back in 1997.
In a statement on Wednesday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that the CCP last week announced its intention to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose national security legislation on Hong Kong.
“Beijing’s disastrous decision is only the latest in a series of actions that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms and China parliament’s own promises to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed international treaty,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said his department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China.
“After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,” Pompeo said. “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.”
“While the United States once hoped that a free and prosperous Hong Kong would provide a model for authoritarian China, it is now clear that China is modeling Hong Kong after itself,” he continued.
Pompeo said the United States stands with the people of Hong Kong as they struggle against the CCP’s increasing denial of the autonomy that they were promised.
Following its threats, the Trump administration could take a range of actions, from sanctions on CCP officials to revoking Hong Kong’s special trading status with the United States.
The plan to enact the national security legislation was first announced in Beijing late last week, with CCP officials saying it was needed to stem the sometimes-violent protests that hit Hong Kong last year.
Thousands of people in Hong Kong took to the streets to protest for the first time since the introduction of the national security law on Sunday despite a ban on mass gatherings introduced to combat coronavirus. Hong Kong police fired tear gas and used pepper spray to disperse the crowds.