Beijing government passed sweeping national security law for Hong Kong late Tuesday night.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor called on the international community to respect the national security law. The legislation would only target a tiny minority of people who had broken the law, while the fundamental rights and freedoms of the overwhelming majority of Hong Kong residents would be protected, Carrie Lam said in a recorded message released during the 44th regulation session of the council.
The law was drafted behind closed doors by members of Beijing’s top law-making body, the National People’s Congress (NPC), bypassing Hong Kong’s own elected legislative council, which potentially massive ramifications for city’s political freedoms. Some people even think the law could change Hong Kong forever.
Opponents of the law say it marks the end of the “one country, two systems” – a principle by which Hong Kong has retained limited democracy and civil liberties since coming under Chinese control.
Before it was even launched, the law had begun to cause a chill effect, the shops removing anti-government paraphernalia, and people cancel social media accounts and delete old posts, with multiple political parties disbanding.
While the biggest impact of the law also affects foreign entities, including particular media and NGOs, operate in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is one of many developing conflicts between Beijing and Washington, on top of trade issues, the South China Sea, and the coronavirus pandemic.
Britain has said the security law would violate China’s international obligations and its handover agreement, which promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years under a “one country, two systems” formula.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday that if China had passed the security law for Hong Kong, it was “extremely regrettable”.
Yoshihide Suga said China’s move to pass national security legislation for Hong Kong, if confirmed, was “regrettable” and undermined credibility in the ‘one country, two systems’ formula of governance.
“We will continue to work with the countries involved to deal with this issue appropriately,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference when asked about reports that China’s parliament had passed the law on Tuesday.
He added that Japan would continue to communicate closely with the United States and China, saying stable relations between the two global powers were vital for regional and global security.
The European Parliament earlier in June passed a resolution saying the European Union should take China to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if Beijing imposed the law.
Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven countries have called on China not to push the legislation.
The Taiwan government warned its citizens of risks in visiting Hong Kong.
The new law would “severely impact” freedom, democracy, and human rights in Hong Kong, Taiwan’s cabinet said in a statement, adding that the democratic island would continue to offer help to Hong Kong citizens.
China has hit back at the outcry from the West, denouncing what it called interference in its internal affairs.