Chinese mainland intelligence agencies could set up bases in Hong Kong – raising fears of direct law enforcement, in what U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called a “death knell” for the city’s autonomy.
Communist Party rulers unveiled more details about their proposed national security laws for the semi-autonomous city on Friday (May 22).
Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said her government will “fully cooperate” with the Chinese parliament to safeguard national security.
She said the proposed plan would not affect rights, freedoms, or judicial independence in the city.
But Pro-democracy activists and politicians in the former British colony don’t agree.
They have for years opposed such legislatioN, arguing it could erode its autonomy, guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement set out when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997.
This is pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok:
“Are they saying that there will be a commission or an organisation in Hong Kong that is above the law? Then that will be the end of Hong Kong.”
Activist Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of pro-democracy street protests in 2014 said Beijing erodes universal values and human rights principles with the security law.
Calls have emerged for flash mobs across the territory and democratic activists plan to meet the press to announce “street action.”
Beijing’s proposal – that critics see as a turning point for China’s most free-wheeling city – has sent shockwaves across business and diplomatic communities fearing that the security laws could potentially hurt the city’s status as a financial hub.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index closed down 5.6%, seeing its largest daily percentage drop since July 2015.
The proposals could also heighten tensions between Beijing and Washington.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States stood with the people of Hong Kong, and warned that the changes could have an impact on the favorable U.S. treatment of the territory.
U.S. President Trump said Washington would react “very strongly” if Beijing went ahead with its plans.
Beijing said earlier that no foreign country has the right to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs, and that the legislation was in Hong Kong’s interest as it would strengthen the “two systems” formula.