President Xi signs controversial security law
The UK, EU and Nato have expressed concern and anger after China passed a controversial security law giving it new powers over Hong Kong.
President Xi Jinping signed the law and it is being placed in Hong Kong's mini-constitution, criminalising sedition and effectively curtailing protests. Hong Kong's government said in a statement that the law would come into effect later on 30 June, with Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader, defending the law, saying it filled a ‘gaping hole’ in national security.
China maintains that the law is needed to tackle unrest and instability linked to a broadening pro-democracy movement. However, opponents have long said that it undermines the autonomy set out in Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which was agreed when the territory's sovereignty was returned by the UK in 1997.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged China to ‘step back from the brink’ and respect the rights of the people of Hong Kong. He told the House of Commons that the ‘success of Hong Kong, the entrepreneurial spirit, the vibrancy, the economic success, has been built on its autonomy in the one country, two systems paradigm’. With the passing of the new law, Raab said that it is now ‘clearly at threat’.
He said: "We would urge China to step back from the brink, respect the rights of the people of Hong Kong and frankly live up to its international obligations through the joint declaration and to the international community."
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said: "It risks seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong and will have a detrimental impact on the judiciary and the rule of law and we deplore this decision."
Meanwhile, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: "It is clear that China does not share our values - democracy, freedom, and the rule of law."