Mary Meisenzahl, Business Insider USMay 25, 2020
Anti-government protester holds a flag supporting Hong Kong independence. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
China’s foreign minister said that implementing anti-sedition laws in Hong Kong is now a “pressing obligation.”
This is a continuation of China’s attempts to increase control over Hong Kong following mass protests in 2019.
On Sunday, thousands of protesters faced tear gas and pepper spray from Hong Kong police.
Critics worry that the new laws could hurt Hong Kong’s independence and the city’s position as a financial center.
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As protests continued in Hong Kong, China pledged to impose new national security laws on the city “without the slightest delay,” reported Lily Kuo at The Guardian.
The laws, which would target anti-government protests, have become a “pressing obligation,” according to China foreign minister Wang Yi. On Sunday, thousands in Hong Kong broke social distancing guidelines in protests opposing China’s attempts to take greater control over the autonomous city.
Protesters chanted “Revolution of our time. Liberate Hong Kong,” “Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong,” and “Hong Kong independence, the only way out,” Reuters reported, as police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray.
“The decision targets a very narrow set of acts that seriously jeopardize national security,” Wang said, denying that the law would be used against media and critics of the government. “It has no impact on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents or the legitimate rights, interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong.”
A protester makes a gesture during a protest on June 12, 2019 in Hong Kong China. Large crowds of protesters gathered in central Hong Kong as the city braced for another mass rally in a show of strength against the government over a divisive plan to allow extraditions to China. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
The laws were first proposed last Thursday at China’s landmark “Two Sessions” legislative event, where the Communist Party sets out its program for the year ahead. They came in response to mass protests involving millions over several months in favor of Hong Kong’s autonomy in 2019.
White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said this move could lead to US sanctions, according to the Guardian. He also said that the laws could make Hong Kong less attractive as a business hub in the region. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo similarly condemned the new laws as a “death knell” for the city’s autonomy last week.