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Editorial: Legislation in Hong Kong that tramples on ‘1 country, 2 systems’ unacceptable

  • May 29, 2020
  • , The Japan News , 12:25 p.m.
  • English Press

It is obvious that China aims to introduce a legal system in Hong Kong similar to that in mainland China to crack down on behavior critical of the Communist Party-led administration. China’s move to trample on Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy is absolutely unacceptable.

 

The National People’s Congress, or China’s parliament, adopted a policy to introduce national security legislation in Hong Kong. A new law based on China’s National Security Law, which has been used to crack down on dissidents, is expected to be brought into effect soon.

 

The Chinese side, denouncing massive protests that continued in Hong Kong last year, justified the adoption of the policy, as it insisted that the stability of Hong Kong and the security of the nation are at risk.

 

Considering past developments, this insistence lacks persuasiveness.

 

When Hong Kong, a British colony, was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, China promised to maintain a system different from that of the socialist mainland — “one country, two systems” — for 50 years. It allowed Hong Kong to have a “high degree of autonomy,” which does not include diplomacy and defense.

 

The Basic Law, which is tantamount to the constitution of Hong Kong, guarantees freedom of speech, assembly and demonstration. It also stipulates that the Hong Kong government enacts a national security law. The Hong Kong government, which tried to enact the law in 2003, withdrew the plan due to strong opposition from local residents.

 

If China pushes ahead with legislation beyond the reach of Hong Kong, it would be rejecting the “one country, two systems” framework.

 

It is said that the new law prohibits acts such as those aimed at splitting up a nation or overthrowing a government, organized terrorist activities and interference in domestic affairs by outside forces. China’s national security authorities could also set up a regional office in Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong will hold parliamentary elections in September. China is rushing to legislate the law apparently in an attempt to contain moves by pro-democracy activists who are critical of China. There are fears that anti-China demonstrations and meetings between pro-democracy activists and foreign supporters will be regarded as “illegality” and be cracked down on.

 

Hong Kong residents have reacted strongly and begun protesting against the legislation. It is inevitable that political turmoil will rekindle.

 

The United States and European countries are intensifying their criticism of China. U.S. President Donald Trump said that he would take strong measures, such as sanctions. The United States has been giving preferential treatment to Hong Kong in terms of tariffs, visa issuance and other areas on the premise of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. However, it is now considering reviewing such preferential treatment.

 

Trump took an unprecedented hard-line stance on the Hong Kong issue because of the intensifying confrontation between the United States and China over the new coronavirus. It seems that China has misjudged the United States’ moves.

 

The administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping has been forced to face situations that are difficult to control due to economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus. Rather than trying to regain leadership by tightening pressure on Hong Kong, China needs to focus on revitalizing its economy by avoiding conflict with the United States.

 

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on May 29, 2020.

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