UCA News
Contribute

UK, US slam Hong Kong's proposed new security law

New legislation breaches international obligations including handover deal signed by the UK and China, says David Cameron
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs David Cameron arrives at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, on Feb. 26 to take part in an international conference aimed at strengthening Western support for Ukraine.

Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs David Cameron arrives at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris, on Feb. 26 to take part in an international conference aimed at strengthening Western support for Ukraine. (Photo: AFP)

Published: February 29, 2024 04:58 AM GMT
Updated: February 29, 2024 05:02 AM GMT

The United States and Britain on Wednesday criticized the Hong Kong government over a proposed new national security law, saying it would curtail freedoms in the finance hub.

Massive pro-democracy protests rocked Hong Kong in 2019, bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the streets to call for greater freedoms.

In response, Beijing imposed a national security law to punish four major crimes -- secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces -- with sentences ranging up to life in prison.

Hong Kong officials said last month a further homegrown security law is needed to plug "loopholes", with justice chief Paul Lam saying he had heard no objections during a month of public consultations that ends on Wednesday.

"We are particularly concerned by Hong Kong authorities' proposal to adopt broad and vague definitions of 'state secrets' and 'external interference' that could be used to eliminate dissent through the fear of arrest and detention," US State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

UK Foreign Minister David Cameron urged the government in Hong Kong "to re-consider their proposals and engage in genuine and meaningful consultation with the people of Hong Kong."

Britain is the former colonial power in Hong Kong, handing over control to China in 1997.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration that set the conditions of the handover stipulated that for 50 years, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) would "maintain a high degree of autonomy and that the rights and freedoms... would continue."

"As a co-signatory to the Joint Declaration, the UK has a responsibility to ensure that those rights and freedoms are maintained," he added.

No 'sovereign power' 

But China's foreign affairs commissioner in Hong Kong condemned Cameron's statement as "irresponsible" and "vicious smearing".

"The UK does not have sovereign power, governing power or supervision power over the post-handover Hong Kong," the commissioner's spokesperson said Thursday.

The Hong Kong government's top adviser Regina Ip said "it is ridiculous for the UKG to claim it has oversight on how Hong Kong enacts its national security law under the Sino-British Joint Declaration."

"If UKG does take its human rights obligations seriously, it would not have legitimised its scheme to send refugee claimants to Rwanda," Ip wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Under its mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, Hong Kong is required to make its own law combating seven security-related crimes, including treason and espionage.

The last legislative attempt in 2003 was shelved after half a million Hong Kongers took to the streets to protest the move.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Lent is the season during which catechumens make their final preparations to be welcomed into the Church.
Each year during Lent, UCA News presents the stories of people who will join the Church in proclaiming that Jesus Christ is their Lord. The stories of how women and men who will be baptized came to believe in Christ are inspirations for all of us as we prepare to celebrate the Church's chief feast.
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia