Aussie PM Rules Out Sanctions Against Beijing for Controversial Hong Kong Security Laws

May 29, 2020 Updated: May 29, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated that Australia is not considering sanctions against Beijing in response to the Chinese communist regime’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC) approving security laws targeting Hong Kong.

Morrison stated at a press conference following the national cabinet meeting on Friday, that sanctions were “currently not an issue before government” and that it was not “in consideration.”

Morrison said the federal government had issued “several statements” on the matter and have done so in “concert with several like-minded countries.”

“That sets out the government’s very clear and consistent position regarding the Basic Law and what we consider the departure from those principles, which have been widely seen as the “one country, two system” process,” he said.

Morrison also said the government was concerned for the “large number of Australian residents” who currently reside in Hong Kong and was keen to provide them with “support” during the civil unrest.

Hong Kong-born federal member of Parliament Gladys Liu issued a statement on May 28 saying, “As someone who was born and raised in Hong Kong, I am saddened by the current violence and I am concerned about the proposed laws.”

Australia's Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu
Australian Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu attends a Question Time session at Parliament House in Canberra on Sept. 12, 2019. (Mark Graham/AFP/Getty Images)

“Making such a law on Hong Kong’s behalf, without the direct participation of its people, legislature or judiciary, would clearly undermine the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’, under which Hong Kong is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy,” she said.

“I have consistently supported the principles of autonomy that have underwritten Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity and are critical to maintaining international and business confidence in Hong Kong.”

That same day, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, along with her United States, United Kingdom, and Canadian counterparts, together issued a joint statement condemning the NPC’s approval of the law earlier on the same day.

On May 23, the foreign affairs minister, along with her Canadian and UK counterparts issued an initial statement responding to the Chinese leadership’s announcement of the security bill.

Protests have re-emerged in Hong Kong sparked by the controversial security bill. The bill’s passage through the NPC bypassed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, which has traditionally been the lawmaking body for the city.

The security bill, whilst scant on detail, alludes to giving the NPC authority to legislate on Hong Kong regarding alleged activities that could “split the country, subvert state power, organize and carry out terrorist activities.”

A wide reading of these laws implies that Beijing has the authority to make wholesale changes to the “one country, two systems” framework, which underpins civil rights in the city.