After China moved to impose the controversial security bill limiting Hong Kong’s autonomy, UK, Australia and Canada have issued a joint statement on May 23 to express ‘deep concern’ over the same. The legislation which was introduced in China’s ceremonial parliament on May 22 was expected to draw criticism.
In the statement, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said that the law proposed by China would “clearly undermine” the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ under which the former British colony comes under Chinese rule.
The statement read, “We are deeply concerned at proposals for introducing legislation related to national security in Hong Kong.”
“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,” it added.
Earlier United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also voiced his concern over the bill and called it “disastrous”. Amid already strenuous US-China relations, Pompeo lashed out on the Asian superpower and called the newly proposed legislation would be a “death knell” for Hong Kong’s autonomy. This came after the spokesperson of National People’s Congress (NPC) Zhang Yesui said that this year’s Chinese parliament session would review the proposal titled, “Establishment and Improvement of the Legal System and Implementation Mechanism for the Safeguarding of National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region."
“The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations, and respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy,” said the State Secretary.
According to the Chinese diplomat, Hong Kong can not be separated from China and “in light of new circumstances and need” the NPC has to exercise its power in the constitution for the new proposal which is “highly necessary”. The announcement was made after Chinese officials and delegates from Hong Kong met with the NPC. Since the former British colony came under China's rule in 1997, the move of sidelining Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous nature has been long under consideration and was last introduced in 2003.
However, the Chinese ceremonial parliament would consider the law in a hastened manner that could bypass Hong Kong's legislature, this week due to the anti-government protests in the city. In 2003, the same legislation was proposed under Article 23 of the Basic Law of mini-constitution in Hong Kong that fueled demonstrations. Zhang has even said that “new situation and demands” require new measures and calls for “necessary” action on the national level.