US Mulls "Nuclear Option" As China Threatens Hong Kong Autonomy

"Any effort to impose national security legislation that does not reflect the will of the people of Hong Kong would be highly destabilizing", Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy Beijing, Frank J Whitaker, also told NBC News.

"It is way worse than the extradition bill".

Young, violent protesters who threw petrol bombs during skirmishes with police and who were derided by officials and Chinese state media as "terrorists" could also be covered in the laws.

FENG: Exactly. If passed, this is the end of what China calls one country, two systems in practice.

President Trump should invoke that law if the Chinese measures take hold, as it will be clear that Hong Kong no longer has a genuinely separate system to protect.

Visa-free travel access to Hong Kong could revert to strict Chinese visa rules, impeding business travel and work visa approvals.

"There is a growing list of disagreements (Hong Kong being but the most recent) but no strategic rationale for the relationship or plan to limit friction".

Speaking to Newsweek from Hong Kong on Friday morning local time, HRW Senior Researcher Maya Wang said that the law will "end Hong Kong as we know it".

The draft bill on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to safeguard national security was submitted to the National People's Congress (NPC) which began its week-long session here.

"Usually the penalty will be much heavier when it is national security", said Ma Ngok, an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who said in addition to targeting protesters, the law could affect anyone seen as critical of the government.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned China's proposed national security law for Hong Kong, warning that the passage of the legislation would be a "death knell" for Hong Kong's autonomy.

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At this stage elite athletes will not be included but the Government is continuing to review what can be done for sport events. If there is concern they are not complying, they could be reported to the police.

As of 2018, the stock of U.S. foreign direct investment in Hong Kong stood at $82.5 billion (£67.76 billion), an increase of $1.2 billion that year, according to U.S. Commerce Department data.

Hong Kong is treated separately from mainland China's more managed economy, and its exports to the United States are treated differently.

The move comes as tensions between Beijing and Washington are becoming increasingly strained over the coronavirus pandemic, trade and Hong Kong.

"More than 20 years after Hong Kong's return, relevant laws are yet to materialize due to the sabotage and obstruction by those trying to sow trouble in Hong Kong and China at large, as well as external hostile forces", Wang said.

What is Hong Kong's legal situation?

"This is because our country will face some factors that are hard to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment", Premier Li said.

Observers believe the immediate effect of the law is likely to be more unrest.

Last year, a firestorm of massive protests erupted in the city as Hong Kong residents demonstrated their displeasure over pro-China policies backed by the city's leadership, namely Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Lam added this would ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong under "one country, two systems".

But critics point to what they say are ambiguities inherent in such a law and the broad, generalist framework it would bring to a place which has a very different legal tradition than the communist-controlled mainland. "It's going to be a very hot summer".

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