China’s enactment of a national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday drew statements of deep concern and regret from abroad and a firm defense at home.
The law has fueled a widening divide between China and the United States and some other countries over the future of Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory that Britain handed over to Beijing in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” framework specified in a Joint Declaration between the two nations.
A look at some reactions and statements from around the world to the law that takes direct aim at some of the actions of anti-government protesters last year:
“This law risks seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong and having a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and rule of law, and we deplore this decision,” said European Council President Charles Michel.
“We have indeed consistently said that China would risk very negative consequences if it went ahead with this law, including for business confidence, China’s reputation, public perception in Hong Kong and internationally,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Union’s executive Commission. “We remain in touch with our international partners on this matter and will pay careful attention to how to respond.”
“The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to impose draconian national security legislation on Hong Kong destroys the territory’s autonomy and one of China’s greatest achievements,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “Hong Kong demonstrated to the world what a free Chinese people could achieve – one of the most successful economies and vibrant societies in the world. But Beijing’s paranoia and fear of its own people’s aspirations have led it to eviscerate the very foundation of the territory’s success, turning ‘One Country, Two Systems’ into ‘One Country, One System.’”
“The purpose of this brutal, sweeping law is to frighten, intimidate and suppress Hong Kongers who are peacefully demanding the freedoms that were promised,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “We continue to urge President Trump to hold Chinese officials accountable for their abuses including in Hong Kong by deploying sanctions under the 2016 Magnitsky Act and by taking steps under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. … We must consider all tools available, including visa limitations and economic penalties.”
“We will be looking at the law very carefully and we will want to scrutinize it properly to understand whether it is in conflict with the Joint Declaration between the U.K. and China. We will be setting out our response in due course,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“China has chosen to break their promises to the people of Hong Kong and go against their obligations to the international community. The U.K. will not turn our backs on the commitments we have made to the people of Hong Kong,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab wrote on Twitter.
He added that Britain is raising the issue at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
“It will only target an extremely small minority of people who have breached the law, while the life and property, basic rights and freedoms of the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong residents will be protected,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said. “The legislation will not undermine ‘one country, two systems’ and Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.”
“This issue is purely China’s internal affairs, and no foreign country has the right to interfere,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said. “The Chinese government is unswervingly determined to safeguard the interests of national sovereignty, security and development, to implement the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, and to oppose any external force interfering in Hong Kong affairs.”
Former Colonial Gov. Chris Patten
The last British colonial governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, said, “This decision, which rides roughshod over Hong Kong’s elected legislature, marks the end of ‘one-country, two-systems.’ … It will throttle the city’s rule of law, presenting a major confrontation between what passes for law in China and the common law system in Hong Kong, which has allowed the city to function as one of the most important financial hubs in Asia.”
Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the government was deeply disappointed at the law passing. “New Zealand has consistently emphasized its serious concern about the imposition of this legislation on Hong Kong without inclusive consultation or the proper involvement of all of Hong Kong’s institutions,” Peters said.
“It is regrettable that the national security law was enacted despite strong concerns shared among the international society and the people of Hong Kong,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said. ”It will undermine trust for the principle of ‘one country, two systems.’”
“China promised that Hong Kong would remain unchanged for 50 years. The adoption of the National Security Law makes people feel that this commitment is indeed a blow to public confidence,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said. “We are disappointed that China cannot fulfill its commitments, which also proves that the ‘one country, two systems’ is not feasible.”