China warned over ‘severe consequences’ for controversial Hong Kong laws

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The law was unanimously passed by China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Tuesday morning, and is due to come into force today.

The controversial legislation will make it a criminal act to commit various challenges to Beijing’s authority, including acts of secession, or breaking away from the country; subversion, or undermining central government; terrorism; and collusion with foreign forces.

Outcry over the legislation has led to China and the US enforcing tit-for-tat visa restrictions on certain people from either country.

And over the past 24 hours, various US lawmakers have spoken out in opposition to the law.

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said that the passing of the legislation “signals the death of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle”, under which Hong Kong enjoys a degree of autonomy and self-governance from Beijing.

She added: “The purpose of this brutal, sweeping law is to frighten, intimidate and suppress Hong Kongers who are peacefully demanding the freedoms that were promised.

“All freedom-loving people must come together to condemn this law, which accelerates Beijing’s years-long assault on Hong Kong’s political and economic freedoms.”

Pelosi called for the US to look into visa limitations and “economic penalties” as a pushback.

The outcry against Beijing’s move seems to be something on which US Democrats and Republicans can agree.

Tom Cotton, Republican senator for the US state of Arkansas, also lambasted the move; though his rhetoric was considerably sharper.

READ: China passes major controversial Hong Kong law – ignoring global outcry

Cotton said: “Xi Jinping and his Communist thugs must face severe consequences for crushing Hong Kong’s freedoms”.

He added that the US “cannot ignore China’s draconian actions” and called for “punishing sanctions”.

Already, the US is making moves in response to the new law. Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State and vocal critic of the Chinese Community Party, said yesterday that the US would end exports of US defence equipment to Hong Kong.

Pompeo claimed that the move was made in the interests of national security, noting that, following Beijing’s move, “we can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China”.

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He added: “It gives us no pleasure to take this action, which is a direct consequence of Beijing’s decision to violate its own commitments under the UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

This ‘declaration’ refers to the agreement between China and Britain, when the former was granted sovereignty over Hong Kong from the UK in 1997 provided the aforementioned ‘one country, two systems’ principle is observed.

Under this principle, Hong Kong is able to have an independent judiciary and democratic rights which places in mainland China do not have.

Meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is yet to make any comment following the official passing of the law by Beijing.

But he has made comments in the past when China was known to be considering the law.

On June 3, Johnson said that if the law were passed, “Britain would then have no choice but to uphold our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong”.

He said that this would involve relaxing UK immigration rules on potentially millions of Hong Kong residents if they chose to leave the region as a result and come to Britain instead. has approached the Cabinet Office for comment, given the situation has developed since then.

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