The Chinese Communist Party has imposed draconian new security legislation on Hong Kong.
Under the new legislation, sweeping and vague provisions on secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign countries create new crimes with penalties of up to life in prison. This has already had a chilling effect on the pro-democracy movement. Shortly after the law was passed, Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong resigned as secretary general of pro-democracy group, Demosisto, and left the party. Other members, including Nathan Law and Agnes Chow, have done the same, and the party announced it would disband.
Under the new regulation, many of Hong Kong’s protests that took place last year would be punishable by law. Nevertheless, protesters took to the streets July 1, which marked the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China. By midday, the Hong Kong city police reported their first arrest under the new security law: a man holding a banner that simply read “Hong Kong independence.”
This newly imposed security legislation is clearly a betrayal of the people of Hong Kong – as well as a clear disregard of international commitments - by the Chinese Communist Party. “The CCP,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a written statement, “promised 50 years of freedom to the Hong Kong people [under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN registered document, and the Basic Law] and gave them only 23.”
The United States is not standing idle while Beijing strips Hong Kong of its economic and political independence and vitality. The U.S. has imposed visa restrictions on CCP officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy. In addition, President Donald Trump has determined to eliminate policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment, with few exceptions.
“The United States,” said Secretary Pompeo, “will continue to stand with the freedom-loving people of Hong Kong and respond to Beijing’s attacks on freedom of speech, the press, and assembly, as well as the rule of law, all of which have, until now, allowed the territory to flourish. Today, marks a sad day for Hong Kong, and for freedom-loving people across China.”