Hong Kong has strongly dismissed a US report that accused China of eroding the autonomy and human rights of the former British colony under the national security law. The Hong Kong government said the report was biased and interfered with its internal affairs.
The US State Department released its 2023 Hong Kong Policy Act Report on Friday, saying that Beijing had continued to use “national security” as a pretext to undermine the rule of law and freedoms in Hong Kong. The report also said that US interests and citizens had been threatened by the increased police and security power of China in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government spokesman said on Saturday that the report was based on “unfounded and fact-twisting remarks” and “firmly rejected” its findings. He said that the national security law was necessary to restore stability and prosperity in Hong Kong after the violent protests in 2019 and that it fully complied with the “one country, two systems” principle and the Basic Law.
He also said that the US report was an attempt to undermine Hong Kong’s status as an international financial and trade center and would only expose the US’ weakness and faulty arguments. He added that Hong Kong would continue to safeguard its national security and uphold its rights and freedoms in accordance with the law.
The national security law, which Beijing imposed in June 2020 without any local consultation, criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with up to life imprisonment.
Since then, more than 230 people have been arrested under the law, including 47 pro-democracy activists facing trial for conspiracy to commit subversion.
The US report also noted a decline in the number of US citizens living in Hong Kong, from 85,000 in 2021 to around 70,000 in 2023, due to factors such as tight Covid-19 restrictions and national security concerns.
The report warned that US citizens who are publicly critical of China could face a higher risk of arrest, detention, expulsion or prosecution in Hong Kong.
The US has imposed sanctions and other measures on Hong Kong and China officials over the national security law, and revoked Hong Kong’s preferential trade status. The US has also co-sponsored a resolution in March with 40 senators calling for a strong response to any Chinese efforts to clamp down on dissent in Hong Kong.
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