China has passed a national security law for Hong Kong on Tuesday to rein in the semi-autonomous region after months of protests last year, local media reported.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, unanimously passed the security law after detail deliberation.
The new law expected to come into effect on Wednesday, the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover to China from British rule.
The new security law for Hong Kong prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, the daily reported.
Earlier, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during her weekly briefing refused to comment on the new law and said she would not answer any question until the new law is passed.
“It would be inappropriate for me to answer any questions and explain [the law] at this stage,” the SCMP quoted her as saying.
Key opposition members resign, group disbands
Soon after the passage of the law, key opposition leaders Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Agnes Chow Ting, and Jeffrey Ngo announced they were resigning their party and quitting politics.
“I now announce that I have resigned as secretary general of Demosisto, and quit the party at the same time. I will practice my beliefs in a personal capacity,” Wong was quoted by SCMP as saying.
Wang is believed to have played a major role in lobbying US politicians for their support to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act last year.
Within hours, Demosisto’s disbanding was also officially announced.
“Demosisto believes it will be difficult for the group to maintain its current operation … members should use more flexible means to join in protests. [We] now announce to disband immediately on this day and suspend all committee affairs,” the organization said in a detailed statement on Facebook.
Hong Kong leader slams US sanctions
Hong Kong leader Lam also said her administration “will not be frightened by any sanctions.”
Addressing a news conference, she said Hong Kong has made preparations for the US’ imminent move.
Lam claimed trade restrictions by Washington “will only cause a little inconvenience,” stressing that the impact on Hong Kong’s technological innovation sector will be limited.
US halts defense exports to Hong Kong
Lam's comments came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced his country was ending the export of sensitive military equipment to Hong Kong.
"Today, the United States is ending exports of @StateDeptPM controlled U.S. origin defense equipment and sensitive @CommerceGov controlled dual-use technologies to Hong Kong. If Beijing now treats Hong Kong as “One Country, One System,” so must we," Pompeo tweeted.
Pompeo also criticized the Chinese move to imposed visa restrictions on US officials and said: "The Chinese Communist Party's threats to restrict visas for U.S. citizens is the latest example of Beijing’s refusal to accept responsibility for breaking its commitment to the people of Hong Kong. We will not be deterred from taking action to respond."
On Monday, China announced visa restrictions on US officials who “behave egregiously” in relation to Hong Kong affairs, days after Washington announced similar restrictions on Chinese officials believed to be undermining freedoms in the Asian financial hub.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian urged the US to stop reviewing or implementing any Hong Kong-related acts and said: “Any effort by the US to hinder Beijing’s introduction of a national security law in Hong Kong would not succeed.”
Last month, the NPC had approved a new national security bill for Hong Kong to tackle "anti-national" activities which under the new law will be a crime to undermine Beijing's authority in Hong Kong.
The semi-autonomous region became part of China in 1997. It witnessed large-scale protests last year against a move to legalize extradition of accused persons to mainland China.
Seoul supports ‘high degree of autonomy'
South Korea highlighted the need for “a high degree of autonomy” for Hong Kong, Yonhap News Agency reported.
“The government respects the 1984 declaration between China and Britain and in accordance with the Basic Law, we believe that it’s important for Hong Kong to continue to prosper and maintain stability while enjoying a high level of autonomy under China’s ‘one nation, two systems’ policy,” said Kim In-chul, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Foreign Ministry.
* Islamuddin Sajid from Islamabad, Pakistan contributed to this storyAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.