Riot police gather on a road as protesters take part in a pro-democracy rally against a proposed new security law in Hong Kong, May 24, 2020. Photo: Anthony Wallace

HONG KONG – Beijing has submitted the draft of Hong Kong’s national security law to the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for discussion, despite Chinese and US officials meeting in Hawaii and objections being raised by Washington.

The NPC Standing Committee will review the draft during its meeting in Beijing between Thursday and Saturday, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday. It did not mention if the law would be passed by the end of the meeting. 

Xinhua said the pending legislation, which was originally not on the agenda of the meeting, will specify punishments for separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

The wording of the fourth offense appeared to have changed, as previously it was believed the law would outlaw the “intervention of foreign forces” in Hong Kong affairs.

The legislation will eventually be inserted into Annex III of the Basic Law, and will then be promulgated rather than going through the Legislative Council in Hong Kong.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress held a meeting in Beijing in May 2020. Photo:

The new development came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo Member Yang Jiechi in Honolulu, Hawaii, to exchange views on US-China relations on Wednesday. 

In a post-meeting statement, Pompeo stressed important American interests and the need for fully-reciprocal dealings between the two nations across commercial, security and diplomatic sectors.

He also stressed the need for full transparency and information-sharing to combat the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and prevent future outbreaks. The statement did not specifically mention any discussions related to Hong Kong, Taiwan or Xinjiang. 

In a statement issued by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday morning, Beijing said the Hawaii meeting had been constructive and the two sides agreed to continue the engagement.

“Both sides fully articulated their countries’ respective positions, and believe that this was a constructive dialogue. Both sides agreed to take action to implement the consensus reached by leaders of both countries,” Xinhua said.

However, Yang also told Pompeo that Washington must stop interfering in Hong Kong. Yang said the US needs to respect Beijing’s positions on key issues, halt its interference in issues such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang, and work to repair bilateral relations.

Yang said Beijing resolutely objected to a statement issued by G7 nations, which commented on the national security legislation for Hong Kong.

Before the Hawaii meeting, the foreign ministers of the US, Japan, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy expressed their collective “grave concerns” over China’s decision to impose a national security law on Hong Kong.

“China’s decision is not in conformity with the Hong Kong Basic Law and its international commitments under the principles of the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration,” said the G7 statement.

“The proposed national security law would risk seriously undermining the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and the territory’s high degree of autonomy,” the statement said.

The United Nations has cited harrowing reports about Uighur detention centers in China. Photo: Twitter
An undated file photo of Uighurs being held at a detention center in Xinjiang, China. Photo: Twitter

After the Hawaii meeting, US President Donald Trump signed the Uighur Human Rights Act into law Wednesday.

The legislation had already been passed by the US Congress. It requires the US administration to determine which Chinese officials were responsible for the “arbitrary detention, torture and harassment” of Uighurs and other minorities. These officials will have their assets frozen in the US and will not be allowed to enter the country.

The Chinese foreign ministry said the act “rudely interferes in China’s internal affairs.” It urged the US to “immediately correct its mistakes.” It also said China would “resolutely hit back and the US will bear the burden of all subsequent consequences.”

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