China on Wednesday slammed international criticism over a controversial new national security law for Hong Kong, saying other countries should keep quiet. The criticism that China has received from the Western world over Hong Kong has been set aside by China, as it has shut up all foreign critics by passing the law and standing sure in the face of vocal castigation by the West.
Western governments and critics have warned the new law will curb the city’s freedoms and undermine the “One Country, Two Systems” policy meant to protect freedoms unseen on the mainland.
Criticism over Hong Kong rebuffed by China
But Beijing officials rebuffed the criticism of the law at a press conference.
“What’s this got to do with you?” said Zhang Xiaoming of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council. “It’s none of your business”.
Officials insisted there had been wide consultation with members of Hong Kong society and hit back at criticism it was undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.
“If what we want is one country, one system, it would have been simple,” Zhang said.
“We are completely able to impose the criminal law, the criminal procedure and the national security law and other national laws on Hong Kong.
“Why would we need to put so much effort into formulating a national security law tailor-made for Hong Kong?”
New Security Law not to ‘target’ anyone: China reassures
Zhang also insisted that the law — which he said can not be applied retrospectively — was only to target “a handful of criminals” and “not the entire opposition camp”.
“The purpose of enacting Hong Kong’s National Security Law is definitely not to target Hong Kong’s opposition camp, pro-democracy camp, as the enemy,” he said.
Instead, the One Country, Two Systems policy showed the government’s “political tolerance”, he said.
His comments come a day after Hong Kong pro-democracy party Demosisto announced it was disbanding, following the passing of the national security law.
Zhang also lashed out at suggestions of punishment from other nations.
“As for… some countries now saying that they will impose severe sanctions on some Chinese officials, I think this is the logic of bandits.”
China passed the sweeping Hong Kong national security law on Tuesday, a historic move that critics and many western governments fear will smother the finance hub’s freedoms and hollow out its autonomy. The passing of the law is a watershed moment in the relations between the West and China, with experts viewing it through the lens of a China which has stopped biding its time and hiding its strength, and is on the final stretch in its race toward global prominence.
First day of Hong Kong law sees protests
Protests have broken out in Hong Kong during its first day under controversial national security laws imposed by Beijing, and after China confirmed that some suspects could be extradited to the mainland under the new rules.
“Rejuvenate Hong Kong!” , “Oppose the black police,” many shouted. Some held up black placards emblazoned with the message: “Oppose the bad national security law.”
People in Hong Kong face life behind bars for breaking a controversial new security law imposed by China https://t.co/j4i10vt9xY
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 30, 2020
“It marks the end of Hong Kong that the world knew before,” prominent democracy campaigner Joshua Wong tweeted. “With sweeping powers and ill-defined law, the city will turn into a #secretpolicestate.”
Hong Kong police made the first arrest since the law came into force. Police said on Twitter that a man was arrested for holding a Hong Kong Independence flag in a protest, which it says violate the new law.
Earlier, the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, had told a ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of its handover to China on Wednesday that the security laws were “the most important development in relations between central – HKSAR [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] since the handover”.
In Beijing on Wednesday, the new law was hailed a “milestone” and a “turning point” that would put Hong Kong back on track for development after a year of protests.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk
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