Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned China’s proposed national security law for Hong Kong, warning that the passage of the legislation would be a “death knell” for Hong Kong’s autonomy.
“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,” Pompeo said in a statement Friday.
The controversial national security law, which is expected to ban sedition, secession and subversion of the central government in Beijing, is set to be introduced at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubber stamp parliament.
“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 US law,” he said, adding that the US stands “with the people of Hong Kong.”
Pompeo’s admonition comes as the rhetoric between Washington and Beijing has grown increasingly adversarial amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration has foisted blame on China for failing to be sufficiently transparent at the outset of the deadly. virus.
A number of US lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have also condemned the proposed law, as have Hong Kong opposition lawmakers and human rights organizations. Beijing has said the legislation is necessary.
“It is the end of ‘one country, two systems’,” said Dennis Kwok, a Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker. “(They are) completely destroying Hong Kong.”
Under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, Hong Kong retains limited democracy and civil liberties despite being under Beijing’s control. The autonomous region also holds a special trade status with the US, which grants it certain exemptions on trade that are not enjoyed by mainland China.
Last year, Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in support of the region’s pro-democracy protesters. Under that law, the US must annually verify to Congress that Hong Kong remains autonomous from China, or it risks losing its special status.
Pompeo said at a press conference Wednesday that, “in Hong Kong, our decision on whether or not to certify Hong Kong as having ‘a high degree of autonomy’ from China is still pending. We’re closely watching what’s going on there.”
CNN’s James Griffiths and Steven Jiang contributed to this report.