China’s plans to impose a brand new safety regulation on Hong Kong will “solely goal a handful of lawbreakers”, town’s chief has mentioned as she tried to reassure residents, traders and companies rattled by the proposal.
Carrie Lam’s feedback on Tuesday got here amid widespread considerations over Beijing’s plans for laws aiming to deal with “secession, subversion, terrorism and overseas interference” in semi-autonomous Hong Kong.
It may additionally see Chinese language intelligence businesses arrange bases within the metropolis.
Many Hong Kongers, enterprise teams and Western nations worry the proposal might be a dying knell to town’s treasured freedoms and usher in an finish to the territory passing its personal legal guidelines.
The announcement of the plans for the brand new regulation – which shall be written by Beijing and bypass Hong Kong’s legislature – sparked the most important drop on town’s inventory alternate in 5 years on Friday. And on Sunday, 1000’s of protesters thronged the streets in scenes that evoked recollections of final yr’s pro-democracy protests.
Many chanted: “Hong Kong independence, the one method out.” Police fired tear gasoline and water cannons to disperse the gang and arrested virtually 200 folks.
‘No want to fret’
However Lam mentioned fears town’s freedoms had been in danger had been “completely groundless”.
“Hong Kong’s freedoms shall be preserved and Hong Kong’s vibrancy and the core values by way of the rule of regulation, the independence of the judiciary, the assorted rights and freedoms loved by folks, will proceed to be there,” she informed reporters.
The proposed regulation, she mentioned, “solely targets a handful of lawbreakers… it protects the overwhelming majority of law-abiding, peace-loving residents”.
Hong Kong is ruled beneath a “one nation, two techniques” framework that ensures town’s folks rights and freedoms not seen in mainland China, together with freedom of expression and the fitting to protest.
Lam mentioned these involved in regards to the proposed laws wanted to attend for its particulars.
“There is no such thing as a want for us to fret as a result of repeatedly, within the final 23 years, at any time when folks apprehensive about Hong Kong’s freedoms of speech and freedoms of expressions and protest, repeatedly, Hong Kong has confirmed that we uphold and protect these values,” she mentioned.
“So, I believe the very best factor is to see the laws in entrance of us and to grasp why at this time limit, Hong Kong wants this piece of laws for the larger good thing about the good majority of Hong Kong folks.”
Individually, the commander of China’s army garrison in Hong Kong mentioned in a uncommon interview that the garrison firmly supported the safety laws.
Chen Doaxing informed Chinese language state tv the garrison had the willpower and skill to safeguard China’s nationwide sovereignty and the long-term prosperity and safety of town.
China’s army has remained in barracks in Hong Kong all through the previous yr, leaving Hong Kong police to confront pro-democracy activists.
Extra protests are anticipated in Hong Kong on Wednesday when town’s legislature is because of focus on one other controversial regulation on the nationwide anthem.
Requested by a reporter whether or not the brand new safety regulation would enable mainland police to arrest protesters in Hong Kong, Lam dismissed the query as “your creativeness”.
She mentioned anti-government protests would proceed to be allowed “whether it is carried out in a authorized method” however didn’t elaborate on what that will imply beneath the brand new regulation.
The US, Australia, Britain, Canada and others have expressed considerations in regards to the laws.
Washington is contemplating whether or not to keep up Hong Kong’s particular standing in US regulation, which has helped it keep its place as a world monetary centre. It has additionally raised the specter of sanctions in opposition to Hong Kong and China.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has referred to as the proposal “a dying knell for the excessive diploma of autonomy” that Beijing promised the previous British colony when it was returned to China in 1997.
Chris Patten, the final British governor of Hong Kong, lamented what he referred to as “a brand new Chinese language dictatorship.”
“I believe the Hong Kong folks have been betrayed by China, which has proved as soon as once more that you would be able to’t belief it additional than you may throw it,” Patten mentioned in an interview with The Instances in London.
Patten is main a coalition of no less than 204 worldwide legislators and policymakers who’ve condemned the proposed laws. In a press release, the coalition referred to as it a “flagrant breach” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a 1984 treaty that promised Hong Kong a excessive diploma of autonomy even after the handover to China.
Beijing has dismissed these considerations.
Talking at an annual information convention throughout the legislative session, Chinese language International Minister Wang Yi mentioned on Sunday that Hong Kong affairs had been an inside matter for China, and that “no exterior interference shall be tolerated”.
“Extreme illegal overseas meddling in Hong Kong affairs has positioned China’s nationwide safety in severe jeopardy,” Wang mentioned, including that the proposed laws “doesn’t have an effect on the excessive diploma of autonomy in Hong Kong”.
“It doesn’t have an effect on the rights and freedoms loved by Hong Kong residents. And it doesn’t have an effect on the reputable rights and pursuits of overseas traders in Hong Kong,” he mentioned.