China released the details of its sweeping security legislation for Hong Kong, as the U.S. took steps to roll back special trading privileges that help maintain the former British colony’s status as an international commercial hub.
The legislation, which was published in full only as it took effect, called for sentences as long as life in prison for the most serious cases of terrorism, secession, subversion of state power and collusion with foreign forces. Earlier Tuesday, President Xi Jinping personally signed an order promulgating the legislation. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply concerned” about the law while the Trump administration vowed “strong actions.”
The national security law comes into force just ahead of the 23rd anniversary of the city’s return to China from British rule, a symbolic occasion usually marked by mass protests against Beijing. An appeals panel upheld an unprecedented police ban against a Civil Human Rights Front rally planned for Wednesday, although some activists said they would march anyway.
- China publishes details of law; takes effect July 1
- President Xi Jinping signs order promulgating law
- Boris Johnson says U.K. “deeply concerned”
- Civil Human Rights Front loses protest appeal
- Trump administration suspends some trade privileges
Here’s the latest (all times local):
Trump says he’s getting angry with China (6:52 a.m.)
U.S. President Donald Trump said he’s becoming “more and more angry at China” over the spread of the pandemic, in a tweet that didn’t reference the country’s actions in Hong Kong.
The territory is waiting to see if his administration will implement more sanctions against Chinese or Hong Kong officials in response to the security law passed on Tuesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier called on Trump to deploy sanctions against Chinese officials under the 2016 Magnitsky Act and to take steps under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
“We must consider all tools available, including visa limitations and economic penalties,” Pelosi said in a statement.
As I watch the Pandemic spread its ugly face all across the world, including the tremendous damage it has done to the USA, I become more and more angry at China. People can see it, and I can feel it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2020
U.S. may change refugee rules (6:42 a.m.)
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is proposing giving refugee status to Hong Kong residents at risk of persecution by the government for taking part in protests.
The legislation was introduced Tuesday in response to the government in Beijing adopting a new national security law that asserts broad new powers over Hong Kong to rein in critics.
“Following last night’s implementation of Beijing’s National Security Law, the U.S. must help Hong Kongers preserve their society at home and find refuge for those who face persecution for exercising the rights once guaranteed under the Joint Declaration,” Rubio said in a statement.
Australia says law undermines autonomy (6:23 a.m.)
Foreign Minister Marise Payne followed the U.K. in expressing “deep concern” over the legislation. “That this decision was made without the direct participation of Hong Kong’s people, legislature or judiciary is a further cause for concern,” she said in a statement. “The people of Hong Kong will make their own assessments of how this decision will affect their city’s future. The eyes of the world will remain on Hong Kong.” Tensions between Australia and China have risen in recent months.
Full text calls for life sentences (11 p.m.)
The text of the legislation confirmed that the most severe offenders would be eligible for sentences as long as life in prison under all four crimes covered by it: terrorism, secession, subversion of state power and collusion with foreign forces. Those convicted would be sentenced under a tiered system similar to the one used on the mainland, with lower-level offenders convicted of subversion, for instance, liable for terms of 3-10 years or 0-3 years, depending on the offense.
The text states any actions taken after the law is implemented will be punishable, implying that the legislation is not retrospective. That would mean the law won’t encompass a person’s previous actions before the law came into effect, as several officials have suggested.
The law would apply to all residents, or those who set up companies or unincorporated organizations in Hong Kong. The legislation allowed for trials that dealt with state secrets to be closed to the public.
U.S. vows strong action (10:15 p.m.)
The U.S. National Security Council said Beijing’s imposition of the legislation was a “violation” of its 1984 treaty with the U.K. that paved the way for Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule. The move effectively signaled the end to China’s promise to maintain a “one country, two systems” framework in the city until at least 2047, NSC spokesman John Ullyot said.
“The United States will continue to take strong actions against those who smothered Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy,” Ullyot said. “We urge Beijing to immediately reverse course.”
Annual march banned (9 p.m.)
Hong Kong for the first time banned its biggest annual protest march, Civil Human Rights Front co-convener Jimmy Sham said, a decision attributed to outbreak-control measures. The Hong Kong Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions upheld a police ban on the march planned for the July 1 anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.
Some activists urged supporters to turn out anyway to express displeasure with the security law, even though they risked arrest.
Boris Johnson ‘deeply concerned’ about law (7:08 p.m.)
The U.K. prime minister said his country was “deeply concerned” about China’s decision as he spoke to reporters in central England. “We will be looking at the law very carefully, we will want scrutinize if it’s in conflict with the Joint Declaration between the U.K. and China,” he said.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in an emailed statement earlier Tuesday that the move to pass the law would be a “grave step.”
Liaison Office, HKMAO statements (6:25 p.m.)
China’s top agencies overseeing Hong Kong affairs released separate statements supporting the law. The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said the legislation provided a strong guarantee for the long-term stability of “one country, two systems” and a turning point for Hong Kong to return to the right track.
Xi signs order (6:01 p.m.)
Xi signed an order promulgating the law, the official Xinhua News Agency said, one of the final steps necessary to put the measure into effect. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee — China’s top legislative body — had earlier voted behind closed doors to adopt the legislation and write it into Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
“The law and the decision were passed unanimously, which shows the common will of all people of the country, including Hong Kong people,” NPC Chairman Li Zhanshu, the Communist Party’s No. 3 leader, said in a speech. He said the law was compatible with Hong Kong’s legal system and would “punish extremely few while protecting the majority.”
— With assistance by Natalie Lung, Jing Li, Iain Marlow, and Belinda Cao
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