Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday defended Beijing’s move to bring about a controversial new security law to firm up its control over Hong Kong and said that the excessive unlawful “foreign meddling” in the former British colony has placed China’s national security in serious jeopardy.
Warning against any foreign interference in Hong Kong amid strong statement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who called the new law “a death knell” to city’s freedom, Wang said Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal matter , and “no external interference will be tolerated.” Noting that excessive unlawful foreign meddling in Hong Kong affairs has placed China’s national security in serious jeopardy, Wang said that establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to safeguard national security has become a pressing priority, and must be done without the slightest delay.
A draft bill on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security was tabled in the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Friday. It is expected to be passed on May 28.
The bill is regarded as a political bombshell for the former British colony as China has decided to bypass the local Legislative Council to bring about a new national security law tailor-made to take control of Hong Kong which has been witnessing mass protests by pro-democracy groups since last year demanding autonomy and freedom from Beijing.
As Wang addressed his annual press conference in Beijing, protests gripped Hong Kong on Sunday.
Hong Kong police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and used a water cannon in the Causeway Bay shopping district on Sunday as thousands took to the streets to protest against China’s planned national security law, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
The protestors have denounced the proposed legislation as a threat to civil liberties and the end of the “one country, two systems” principle.
Wang said the draft decision targets a narrow category of acts that seriously jeopardize national security.
“It does not affect the high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong. It does not affect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents. And it does not affect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors in Hong Kong,” Wang said.
The central government is responsible for upholding national security, which is the same in any country, he said.
The central government holds the primary and ultimate responsibility for national security in all sub-national administrative regions, which is the basic theory and principle underpinning national sovereignty and common practice in countries around the globe, he said.
The adoption of the decision will start a legislative procedure, which will improve Hong Kong’s legal system, and bring more stability, stronger rule of law, and a better business environment to Hong Kong, Wang said, adding that the basic principle of “one country, two systems” and Hong Kong’s position as a global financial, trading and shipping centre will be protected.