U.S. lawmakers and European leaders condemned Beijing's formal passage of a new national security law for Hong Kong, heralding an era of tightening communist control over the city.
The standing committee of China's rubber-stamp legislature, via ceremonial votes, passed the law on June 30, which critics fear will be used to crack down on those critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The text of the legislation wasn't made public until one hour before the 23rd anniversary of the city's transfer to Chinese rule from British administration.
The measure took immediate effect.
Under the law, those found guilty of the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces face punishment up to life imprisonment. It also provides for the establishment of a CCP security agency in the city to investigate and implement the law. Members of the agency "are not under the jurisdiction of the Hong Kong special administrative region" and "are not subject to inspection, search, and detention by law enforcement officers" of Hong Kong.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the law's passage "signals the death of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle," referring to the framework under which Beijing pledged to govern Hong Kong upon its handover. The territory's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, guarantees autonomy; freedoms of speech, press, and assembly; and an independent judiciary—which aren't afforded in the mainland.
“The purpose of this brutal, sweeping law is to frighten, intimidate, and suppress Hongkongers who are peacefully demanding the freedoms that were promised," Pelosi said in a statement.
She called on the Trump administration to hold the regime accountable by sanctioning CCP officials responsible for abusing rights in Hong Kong under the Global Magnitsky Act and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told The Epoch Times affiliate NTD that the move is "very disturbing," and intended to deprive Hongkongers of basic freedoms promised in the Basic Law.
The regime's latest action will have ramifications not only for the Hong Kong people but for the international business community, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) says.
"They're [businesses] going to look at how China treats international law and agreements. And they're going to understand that they cannot just trust the communists," Yoho told NTD. "And there's going to be a massive divestment from Hong Kong in business and international trade."
Yoho, who introduced the House version of the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, was hopeful that the bill would be passed and signed into law before the end of this session of Congress in late July.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) says he wasn't surprised by the law's speedy finalization process in Beijing, calling it another example in the "long list of times where the Chinese Communist Party has failed to live up to its own expectations, to the agreements, to the promises that it has made."
"We must continue to let China know, and the whole world community needs to let China know, that this is completely unacceptable," Perry told NTD.
Outside the United States, the UK, European Union, Japan, Taiwan, and others have criticized Beijing's move.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK is "deeply concerned" about the national security law's implementation, while the European Union council President Charles Michel said, “We deplore the decision.”
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the move is a "grave step, which is deeply troubling."
"Despite the urging of the international community, Beijing has chosen not to step back from imposing this legislation. China has ignored its international obligations regarding Hong Kong," Raab said.