07/02/2020, 10.09
HONG KONG - CHINA
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New security law sparks global criticism, except from Cuba

by Paul Wang

At least 370 people arrested in Hong Kong yesterday; several of them are victims of the new law. The US House of Representatives unanimously votes for a law that provides for sanctions on people, companies and banks that undermine Hong Kong's freedom. The criticism of the EU, Australia, Great Britain, Japan. Concerns about the "universal" sovereignty expressed by law.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - On the first day of its application, Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong registered one "success": more than 370 people were arrested at demonstrations on July 1st; dozens of these were for violations of the security law: pro-independence banners and chants; sticks considered a "terrorist" weapon; journalists who "hinder" the work of the police.

But Beijing has also reaped a cascade of criticism and condemnation of a law considered in violation of the UN Charter for Human Rights (which Beijing has also signed).

In the United States, the House of Representatives has passed a law that provides for sanctions against individuals and organizations - such as banks or companies - with ties to Chinese government representatives who undermine Hong Kong's freedoms. The law was passed unanimously by Republicans and Democrats. House president Democrat Nancy Pelosi said, "The law is a brutal, radical crackdown on the people of Hong Kong, which aims to destroy the freedoms that were promised."

According to most observers, the new law destroys the "One country, two systems" principle, which would have guaranteed Hong Kong's liberal lifestyle for at least 50 years, until 2047.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new law is "a clear and serious rupture" of the joint declaration signed in 1985 between Britain and China on the future of Hong Kong.

Britain is planning to offer British citizenship to 3 million Hong Kong residents. Australia is also considering offering refuge to Hong Kong residents.

The Japanese Foreign Minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, stressed that the "unpleasant" law undermines the "One country, two systems" principle.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, "deplored" the law and said that it has "negative effects on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law".

For Canada, the new law "increases the risk of arbitrary detention on the basis of security issues and possible extraditions to popular China."

In Hong Kong, in addition to criticisms of the weakening of the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, China's claim to want to condemn violations of the law that also occur outside the borders of Hong Kong and China is denounced.

Article 38 of the law states that citizens, permanent and non-permanent residents of Hong Kong are liable to prosecution for acts of "secession, subversion, terrorism, collaboration with foreign forces" that take place outside the territory and China. And it is possible to prosecute if such acts also take place on a ship or on a plane registered in Hong Kong.

In short, every person on the planet is liable under the law.

Chen Ming-tong, Taiwanese minister for Chinese affairs, commented: " I wonder if this is some fiat of a celestial empire by which all of humanity is bound. This is no longer just something that should concern Hong Kong or, indeed, Taiwan. The world must come wide awake to this law, a law we really should be confronting in all seriousness."

So far Beijing has only gained the support of all its political and economic allies. In recent days, at a session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, held in Geneva, which discussed the security law, China was roundly defended by 53 nations, led by Cuba

"We believe - said the Cuban representative presenting the motion of the 53 countries -  every country has the right to safeguard its national security through legislation, and commend relevant steps taken for this purpose". And he declared that "non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries is an essential principle inscribed in the United Nations Charter".

Something similar had been expressed yesterday by Zhang Xiaoming at the press conference presenting the law: "Why are you fighting us? ... The time when the Chinese people had to please others has passed".

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