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US and UK warn of new Hong Kong “security law”.

US and UK warn of new Hong Kong “security law”.

The US State Department says the proposed local law could be used to suppress dissent in China's special administrative region. After mass protests in 2019, Beijing largely curbed freedoms in Hong Kong.

The United States and Great Britain have warned against introducing new security legislation in Hong Kong. Broad and vague definitions of “government secrets” and “foreign interference” risk being used to “suppress dissent,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in Washington on Wednesday. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron should reconsider.

Cameron said the proposed law did not comply with international human rights standards and would have a “negative impact on the exercise of Hong Kong people's rights and freedoms”. He called on the Hong Kong government to reconsider its plans and called for “genuine consultation with the people”.

The new law aims to close “loopholes”.

In 2020, Beijing passed the so-called National Security Law in response to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The law, which has been heavily criticized internationally, enables authorities to crack down on all activities that threaten China's national security — and crack down on critics.

The Hong Kong government, now loyal to Beijing, is planning additional local security legislation that it says is intended to plug “loopholes.” Justice Minister Paul Lam said he heard no objections during the month-long public debate.

Hong Kong was considered a bastion of freedom of expression

Until a few years ago, the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong was considered a bastion of freedom of expression in China. However, since Beijing enacted the so-called Security Law in 2020, authorities in the special administrative region have cracked down heavily on pro-democracy activists and other voices critical of Beijing.

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When the former British crown colony returned to China in 1997, Beijing pledged to uphold its “one country, two systems” policy, guaranteeing Hong Kong people plenty of civil rights for 50 years. (APA/AFP)

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