USA mulls 'nuclear option' as China threatens Hong Kong autonomy

Members of the Democratic Party hold banner and placards during a protest

Critics say Beijing's efforts to incorporate Hong Kong into its national security system through bypassing the city's parliament amount to a breach of its promise of the "one country two systems" policy enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that is meant to guarantee Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy.

This also leaves Hong Kong's huge democracy movement helpless to block the legislation, as it did last year's extradition bill that would've sent the accused to the mainland for "justice". U.S. President Donald Trump, when asked about China's moves, pledged to respond "very strongly". Despite that, Beijing appears to have lost patience and is determined to assert greater control and limit opposition activity following last year's protests.

"When they lose control of the legislature, they can still pass laws".

"We have teachers in secondary school talking to young minds about how they should resist and push back against government policy in violent ways", NPC deputy and former Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung said in a state television interview.

New Chinese national security restrictions imposed on Hong Kong could draw a US revocation of the former British colony's "special status" under USA law, a move that would have far-reaching trade and investment implications.

"This is the end of Hong Kong, this is the end of "One Country, Two Systems", make no mistake about it", Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok told reporters.

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong enjoyed bipartisan support from the US, where lawmakers passed the "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act", which allowed the sanction those abusing human rights in the territory.

The plan also would allow Chinese national security organs to set up agencies in Hong Kong "when needed". "It also provides that rights and freedoms, including those of the person, of the press, of assembly, of association and others, will be ensured by law in Hong Kong and that the provisions of the two United Nations covenants on human rights shall remain in force".

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Now Lam is arguing in lockstep with Beijing's talking points, saying that the new law is necessary for security and is in the interest of all Hong Kong residents.

China is seeking to pass a law that would ban "treason, secession, sedition and subversion" in Hong Kong.

Instead, it has chosen what he called a "worse option" by proposing that the National People's Congress in Beijing enact a national security law for the territory.

The United States on Friday stepped up threats to strip Hong Kong of special trading privileges as it led Western nations in anger over China's brazen assault on the territory's autonomy. "I find it hard to believe this will not trigger either a massive peaceful and orderly demonstration or more vocal and aggressive protests..."

She insisted it would not affect the territory's autonomy, adding: 'Hong Kong will remain to be a very free society'.

The pandemic has changed a lot in this world but did not change the struggle over the rights of people in Hong Kong.

The National People's Congress, which starts a one-week annual session Friday, will deliberate a bill on "establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security", spokesman Zhang Yesui said at a late-night news conference previewing the meeting.

"The United States strongly urges Beijing to reconsider its disastrous proposal, abide by its global obligations, and respect Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, democratic institutions, and civil liberties, which are key to preserving its special status under USA law", he said, adding that the U.S. stands "with the people of Hong Kong". "This is really the time for us not to waste any more time and to get on with these important legislative safeguards".

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