The ruling Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China is pushing controversial national security measures that will ban acts of treason, secession, and sedition in Hong Kong. It’s a move that many are decrying as a legal means to limit the freedoms of the region’s citizens and stamp out pro-democracy activism. In response to the proposed legislation, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has strongly condemned China’s leadership.
In a press statement posted to the U.S. State Department’s official web site on Friday, Pompeo called the move by the P.R.C.’s National People’s Congress to bypass Hong Kong’s usual legislative process and impose the national security legislation a “death knell” for the autonomy Beijing had promised the special administrative region.
Pompeo went on to call Hong Kong a “bastion for liberty” and pledged that the U.S. stands by its people. He also indicated that the legislation could impact America’s assessment of the region.
“Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of liberty. The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its international obligations, and respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties, which are key to preserving its special status under U.S. law. Any decision impinging on Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms as guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law would inevitably impact our assessment of One Country, Two Systems and the status of the territory.”
Hong Kong — which is home to more than 7 million people — had been a colony and dependent territory of the British Empire from 1842 until 1997, when it was returned to China. Since that time, the territory has enjoyed a level of freedom, civil liberty, and overall autonomy beyond that seen elsewhere in the communist state, as a direct as a result of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which enacted the “one country, two systems” principle.
More recently, protests erupted in Hong Kong in 2019 amid proposed legislation that would allow extradition from the territory to mainland China. The fear of unfair trials and violent treatment at the hands of Chinese officials riled the pro-democratic Hong Kong citizenry and has resulted in violent clashes between protesters and police.
The new national security measures — which were taken up by the Chinese Congress on Friday according to the Associated Press — are largely being construed as a means to silence the protesters and curb the pro-democracy movement. Per NBC News, Tanya Chan — a member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council — referred to the situation as “the end of Hong Kong.”
In other Pompeo news, as reported by The Inquisitr, the secretary of state has come under fire for reportedly holding elite, taxpayer-funded dinners for Republican insiders that were not indicated on his public schedule.