The United States congress has passed legislation which would impose sanctions on Hong Kong in response to a new law passed by China which threatens democracy in the semi-autonomous region.
Earlier this week, Beijing passed a law that would effectively criminalise any anti-government protests like those seen in Hong Kong throughout 2019. It includes included ruling vandalism and arson as acts of terrorism.
However, the law, is not only a threat to democracy in Hong Kong, but directly violates the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration guaranteeing freedom in Hong Kong for 50 years after Britain handed Hong Kong back to mainland China in 1997, under the “one government, two systems” agreement.
“The law is a brutal, sweeping crackdown against the people of Hong Kong, intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised,” said US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to BBC. Pelosi’s words echo the sentiments of US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who declared the White House’s intentions to “eliminate policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment.”
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the passing of the law was a “clear and serious breach” of the Sino-British joint declaration. As a result, the former colonisers have offered residency, and then citizenship, to up to three million Hong Kongers. However, China has stated its intentions to block the offer.
Canada, Australia and Japan are also considering offering safe havens to the people of Hong Kong. Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has claimed to be “actively considering” these measures, while Canada said the new law “increased the risk of arbitrary detention on national security grounds and possible extradition to mainland China” and therefore changed travel advice to Hong Kong.
Japan spoke out against the law and it deemed “regrettable”.
“It will undermine trust for the principle of ‘one country, two systems'” said Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.
However, condemnation of China’s new national security law has not been globally unanimous. Over 50 countries, led primarily by Cuba’s sentiments, have welcomed the law, claiming that any opposition is threatening the UN’s principles of affording its member states the right to self-governance and that the law is nobody else’s business.
“Non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign states is an essential principle enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, Cuban officials said at the 44th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“We believe every country has the right to safeguard its national security through legislation, and commend relevant steps taken for this purpose.”