U.S. Condemns China’s National Security Law: Hong Kong Update

The U.S. condemned China’s plan to enact sweeping national security legislation in Hong Kong, with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo calling the proposal “disastrous” and urging Beijing to reconsider.

His comments came as Hong Kong braced for fresh demonstrations heading into the weekend after China announced its intentions. Residents are concerned about the future of “one country, two systems,” the principle by which the Asian financial hub is overseen by Beijing.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said earlier Friday that the city would fully cooperate with China to enact the legislation.

Her comments are likely to anger demonstrators and fuel protests that have resurged in recent weeks following months of disruption leveled by the virus. Already, demonstrators havecalled for rallies against Beijing-backed legislation, including a bill that would criminalize disrespecting China’s national anthem, on Sunday and Wednesday.

Key Developments:

  • BREAKING: Pompeo condemns China’s plan to impose legislation
  • Biden says U.S. “should not remain silent”
  • U.K. says China must respect city’s freedoms
  • Lam offers full cooperation on security law
  • China says no country has right to interfere in Hong Kong
  • HKMA says it will maintain HKD stability

Here’s the latest (all times local):

Hassett Warns of Capital Flight if Laws Enacted (10:39 a.m.)

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett called China’s move “very unacceptable to the U.S. government” and predicted it would backfire on Beijing.

“They’re going to see a lot of economic harm from what they’re doing, because if I had capital to invest, would you really want to invest it in a place where they’re basically, you know, sneering at the rule of law the way they are right now?” he said Friday in an interview on Fox Business Network.

“I would expect that they’re going to have serious capital flight problems in Hong Kong, if they follow through this, they will no longer be the financial center of Asia, and that they themselves will pay very very heavy costs,” he added.

China must respect Hong Kong’s freedoms, U.K. says (9:23 p.m.)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the British government wants to clarify exactly what China has proposed — but warned it expects Beijing to respect the autonomy Hong Kong is due.

“We expect China to respect Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms and high degree of autonomy,” Johnson’s spokesman James Slack told reporters. The U.K. remains committed to upholding Hong Kong’s autonomy under the joint declaration, Slack said.

The U.K. has previously said there will need to be a reassessment of relations with China in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak. On Friday, the government unveiled a plan to diversify supply chains, potentially reducing Britain’s reliance on China for some medical kit.

Lam says law will help stop local terrorism (9 p.m.)

Lam said the legislation wouldn’t affect capitalism and could bolster business confidence in Hong Kong during an evening news briefing in the city. Wearing a face mask to protect against the virus, she said citizens should view the law “positively” and said there was urgent need for the measure.

”The enforcement of national security legislation won’t affect Hong Kong’s capitalism and the law will also protect foreign investors’ interests in HK,” she said. “The legislation will also help Hong Kong to effectively nip local terrorism that may jeopardize national security in the bud and make Hong Kong a safer and more stable city.”

Biden says U.S. should condemn China over Hong Kong (8:59 p.m.)

Likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said the U.S. should be pushing world powers to condemn China over its moves to take greater control of Hong Kong. In an interview with CNBC, he said the U.S. silence on Hong Kong has been “devastating.”

“We should not remain silent,” Biden said. “We should be calling the rest of the world to condemn their actions.”

U.S. condemns China’s plan to impose legislation on Hong Kong (8:30 p.m.)

The U.S. condemns China’s “proposal to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose national security legislation on Hong Kong,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in an emailed statement. “The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal.”

“The decision to bypass Hong Kong’s well-established legislative processes and ignore the will of the people of Hong Kong would be a death knell for the high degree of autonomy Beijing promised for Hong Kong under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed agreement,” the statement said.

President Donald Trump had earlier warned that the U.S. would respond to the planned move in Beijing, amid escalating tensions between the two powers. “I don’t know what it is because nobody knows yet,” hetold reporters at the White House about the possible Chinese actions. “If it happens, we’ll address that issue very strongly.”

Activist Joshua Wong calls on international community (7:28 p.m.)

Wong — one of the city’s most prominent activists — distributed fliers with a group of others outside the Hung Hom train station in Kowloon during the Friday evening rush hour. “We urge China to withdraw the evil bill,” he said, adding that it was “eroding the fundamental freedom of Hong Kongers.”

Wong called on the global community to stand with the financial hub and said it was “time” for the U.S. to implement theHong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

HKMA says it’ll maintain HKD stability (6:55 p.m.)

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority — the city’s de facto central bank — “will maintain HKD exchange rate stability in accordance with the Linked Exchange Rate System,” a spokeswomansaid in an emailed statement. The HKMA will continue to monitor market developments, the statement said.

Security laws endanger Hong Kong’s international status, Taiwan says (4:13 p.m.)

Laws that harm democracy, human rights and Hong Kong’s freedom under the guise of national security will increase societal instability and heighten risks for international citizens in the city, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Councilsaid in an emailed statement. It urged authorities to prevent greater chaos in Hong Kong and not make the “wrong decision.”

‘No country has the right’ (3:49 p.m.)

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian held a regular daily news conference in Beijing, saying that national security in Hong Kong was “purely” an internal affair. “No country has the right to interfere,” he said.

“National security is the bedrock for a country’s survival and development,” Zhao added. “No country will allow separatist activities and other activities endangering national security on its territory.”

The foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong earlier issued a separatestatement saying the security legislation would target only a small number of people who are endangering national security. It also said it hoped international society would hold a “fair and objective” view of the NPC’s decision.

Japan stresses ‘one country, two systems’ (3:01 p.m.)

“Hong Kong is an extremely important partner for our country, with close economic ties and exchange of people,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Friday afternoon. “It is very important for Hong Kong to prosper stably on the basis of ‘one country, two systems.’ I want to emphasize this again.”

Lam offers China full cooperation (2:59 p.m.)

Hong Kong authorities will fully cooperate with the NPC’s Standing Committee to complete relevant legislation for national security as soon as possible, Lamsaid in a statement.

The government supports the NPC’s resolution to introduce the new national security law in the city as it “is facing an increasingly severe national security situation, and because legislative bodies in Hong Kong can hardly complete national security legislation on its own for a foreseeable amount of time,” she said.

Lam added this would ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong under “one country, two systems.” She reiterated that safeguarding national security was the city’s constitutional responsibility.

Opposition lawmakers march to Liaison Office (2:30 p.m.)

Pro-democracy lawmakers marched in small groups to the Chinese government’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong to express opposition to the measure, hours after its details were officially announced. Police took down their information and issued penalty tickets as they said they breached Hong Kong’s ban on gatherings of more than eight people, a restriction induced to contain the virus, local outlet Apple Daily reported.

Some democratic lawmakers also protested during an afternoon committee meeting at the Legislative Council. They shouted “National security law ruins Hong Kong! Hong Kong people, resist!” before pro-establishment chairperson Starry Lee told them to leave the meeting room.

— With assistance by Karen Leigh, Lulu Shen, Natalie Lung, Isabel Reynolds, Cindy Wang, Vinicy Chan, Fion Li, Kasia Klimasinska, Tyler Pager, Thomas Penny, and Jennifer Jacobs

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