Hong Kong marks handover anniversary as national security law takes effect
UNTV News • July 1, 2020 • 297
Hong Kong on Wednesday (July 1) held a flag-raising ceremony followed by a speech by Chief Executive Carrie Lam to mark the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to Chinese rule, hours after new national security legislation took effect in the financial hub.
“The enactment of the national law is regarded as the most significant development in the relationship between the Central Authorities and the HKSAR since Hong Kong’s return to the Motherland”, the city’s embattled leader said the law was the most important development since the city’s return to Beijing in 1997.
Flanked by current and previous government officials, Lam also said the new law would only affect a small group of people in the Asian financial capital.
There was a heavy presence of law enforcement across the city as the ceremony was underway.
The contentious law will punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests. (Reuters)
If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday (July 8).
The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.
Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation. (Reuters)
A special office to oversee national security in Hong Kong officially commenced operations on Wednesday (July 8) amidst heavy security.
The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government, charged with overseeing implementation of the controversial new national security law for Hong Kong, held a ceremony in the early hours of the morning.
The new law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city.
There was a heavy police presence outside the Metropark Hotel in Hong Kong, which will serve as the temporary headquarters of the new office. Police had erected water barriers and put in place crowd control measures overnight, restricting residents and foreign media from observing the ceremony.
Residents in the area expressed surprise about the rapid speed of opening in the new office, and the apparent lack of advance notice to the community.
“Everything that they have organized is quite secret”, said one resident, a 62-year-old interior designer giving his name as John Lee. “They have to let the citizens be informed earlier.”
The Metropark Hotel in Causeway Bay is located opposite Victoria Park, home of the annual candlelight rallies in memory of China’s bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy crackdown. (Reuters)
TikTok said it will exit the Hong Kong market within days, a spokesman told Reuters late on Monday (July 6), as other technology companies including Facebook Inc have suspended processing government requests for user data in the region.
The short form video app owned by China-based ByteDance has made the decision to exit the region following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.
Late on Monday, the U.S. secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said that the United States is “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.
U.S. lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data, saying they were worried about Chinese laws requiring domestic companies “to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”
The company, now run by former Walt Disney Co executive Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that the app’s user data is not stored in China. (Reuters)
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