Despite massive international criticism, china’s people’s congress has approved plans for a new security law in hong kong.
At the end of their annual meeting in beijing on thursday, the deputies instructed the parliament’s standing committee to pass the so-called law on the protection of national security in the former british crown colony. In hong kong – now a chinese special administrative region – protests against the influence of peking have been going on for months.
The law bypasses hong kong’s parliament. It is directed against activities that are considered subversive or separatist. The plan would be the most far-reaching encroachment on guaranteed autonomy to date. Hong kong has been governed as a separate territory under the principle of "one country, two systems" since its handover to china in 1997.
After the decision, minister heiko maas (SPD) warned: "hong kong’s high level of autonomy must not be eroded."He expects that the freedoms and rights there will be preserved. The U.S. Is now even threatening the people’s republic with sanctions. Secretary of state mike pompeo says special benefits for hong kong no longer justified because of increasing chinese interference. Hong kong’s businesses and citizens have a lot at stake – from higher tariffs to travel visas.
Together with great britain, australia and canada, the USA published a joint declaration on thursday. It says: "hongkong’s autonomy and the system that has brought such gross prosperity have been dramatically hollowed out."The chairman of the EPP group
in the european parliament, manfred weber (CSU), told the "bild" newspaper: "we need diplomatic pressure. China must know that europe does not accept development."
The law also opposes foreign interference. For enforcement, "if necessary" even chinese security organs are to be deployed in hong kong. Pro-democracy forces fear they will be targeted by the bill. Since last summer, the business metropolis has experienced week after week of demonstrations against the beijing-appointed government, police brutality at the protests and the growing influence of the communist leadership.
China’s premier li keqiang defended the plans. After the end of the annual meeting, the prime minister told the press on thursday that the law would serve to "insistently implement" the principle of "one country, two systems". It will ensure "long-term stability and prosperity" in hong kong. His remarks, however, were conspicuously brief and vague.
Some 2900 deputies in the great hall of the people also approved the budget, which includes a sharp 6.6 percent increase in the military budget. To boost economy in corona crisis, higher government spending, new bonds and tax cuts planned. Budget deficit to rise above critical three percent mark to more than 3.6 percent. Chinese parliament, which is not freely elected, has never rejected a bill in its history.
Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the annual meeting in march had to be postponed – for the first time in the recent history of the people’s republic. The approximately 2900 deputies were tested at least twice for sars-cov-2. In addition, the meeting was shortened to one week.