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China accuses US consul of ‘maliciously abusing Hong Kong’s nationwide safety legislation’ with feedback on lawyer ruling

“The nationwide safety legislation tackles the undefended subject of nationwide safety in Hong Kong to clamp down on the small minority and defend the nice majority of residents,” it stated.

The workplace stated the way in which Could defamed the town’s rule of legislation and freedom would “solely unveil his perilous intention to hassle Hong Kong and suppress China”.

The Hong Kong authorities stated it “severely condemns” Could’s “untruthful remarks and smears” in regards to the nationwide safety legislation, in addition to the town’s rule of legislation, rights and freedoms.

In a press release, the federal government additionally stated the feedback have been “clear makes an attempt to make hassle out of nothing and amounted to scaremongering”.

For the reason that nationwide safety legislation got here into impact in June 2020, the US has been “repeatedly exploiting totally different incidents and events, in addition to creating excuses” to discredit the legislation, the assertion added. It stated: “They neglect the truth that the implementation of the NSL has enabled the livelihood and financial actions of the Hong Kong group at massive to renew as regular and the enterprise surroundings to be restored.”

In clarifying two clauses within the nationwide safety legislation – after Hong Kong’s high court docket upheld an earlier ruling that allowed jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying to rent a British barrister for his pending nationwide safety trial – the Nationwide Folks’s Congress Standing Committee didn’t ban international legal professionals.

As an alternative, it determined the town’s courts would wish the approval of the chief government or a committee established to safeguard nationwide safety to permit the participation of international legal professionals.

The nationwide safety legislation has been one of many largest sources of stress between Washington and Hong Kong in addition to a part of a broader American disagreement with Chinese language authorities insurance policies lately.

Former US president Donald Trump in 2020 signed a legislation to sanction people and banks deemed to have aided the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and an government order ending the town’s preferential buying and selling standing quickly after the nationwide safety legislation took impact. Joe Biden’s administration has maintained Trump’s hard-line place on Hong Kong and mainland China.

Kurt Tong, who served as US consul normal to Hong Kong till 2019, known as Beijing’s interpretation “a blended bag” and one thing that “might be seen as in keeping with sustaining Hong Kong autonomy”.

“Some anticipated the standing committee to easily subject a blanket choice saying that no international legal professionals are allowed in nationwide safety circumstances, with that coverage established and dictated from Beijing,” stated Tong, who’s now a associate at Washington-based danger consultancy The Asia Group.

“Alternatively, the truth that the Hong Kong authorities noticed match to problem the courts’ choice on international legal professionals within the first place was a knock in opposition to judicial independence,” he added.

Could on Wednesday accused Hong Kong’s authorities of curbing press freedoms and different violations of its chartered semi-autonomous standing because the enactment of the brand new legislation in response to anti-government protests in 2019.

Whereas calling on authorities in Beijing “to stop its dismantlement of Hong Kong’s democratic establishments, autonomy and rule of legislation” and for the Hong Kong authorities to drop expenses in opposition to “people unjustly detained”, May additionally known as for extra tutorial alternate and continued enterprise engagement with the US.

Citing the necessity for Washington to assist “construct the following technology of students, enterprise leaders, and authorities officers” with experience within the area, Could stated the US authorities would “provoke some programmes to encourage renewed exchanges between American and Hong Kong universities and suppose tanks”. Whereas tutorial freedom has been curtailed, he stated, this drawback was not as acute as on the mainland.

Could pointed to a latest choice by Hong Kong immigration authorities to disclaim entry to Michiko Kiseki, a Japanese photojournalist who documented the widespread anti-government protests of 2019.

The Hong Kong Journalists Affiliation reported on January 13 that the journalist was deported final month after being detained for one evening and questioned about her work.

Could stated native Hong Kong media’s minimal protection of a lone protester generally known as “Bridge Man” supplied additional proof of rising self-censorship within the metropolis. The protester was arrested after unfurling banners in Beijing important of Chinese language President Xi Jinping, one in every of a number of incidents late final 12 months that sparked protests outdoors China.

Ho-fung Hung, a political financial system professor at Johns Hopkins College’s Faculty of Superior Worldwide Research, stated the Hong Kong authorities’s forthcoming enactment of one other nationwide security-related legislation would present whether or not the town would pivot extra within the path that Could was urging.

Hung argued that the Article 23 safety legislation – whose passage is predicted later this 12 months – might additional impinge on non-political actions, like monetary evaluation, a operate that’s essential for the well-being of Hong Kong’s financial system.

He cited authorized motion by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Fee in opposition to American short-seller Andrew Left, head of Citron Analysis, as illustrative of what might occur to extra securities analysts within the metropolis if the Article 23 legislation ended up being excessively broad in figuring out what constitutes a state secret.

The investigation of Left discovered that he made a revenue of about HK$1.7 million (US$217,000) by shorting 4.1 million shares in China Evergrande Group earlier than issuing a scathing report on the corporate in 2012.

Left was banned from buying and selling on Hong Kong’s inventory market for 5 years and ordered to repay HK$1.6 million in buying and selling earnings and about HK$Four million in authorized bills, following a ruling by the Market Misconduct Tribunal in 2016.

“If the Article 23 is enacted in probably the most draconian approach,” Hung stated, “it’s doubtlessly troubling as a result of people who find themselves completely non-political could be suspected or charged for disguising [themselves] as a scholar, journalist or businessman however truly spying for international powers.”

Tong stated companies ought to look ahead to the main points of the Article 23 legislation, however added that it won’t matter as a lot with the nationwide safety legislation already in place.

“The brand new laws may reinforce the prevailing nationwide safety legislation, moderately than be additive. We should wait and see what the textual content says,” he stated. “From a international enterprise perspective, it’s pointless for Hong Kong to go to the difficulty of passing extra measures to make Hong Kong politically quiescent, since issues have just about gone quiet when it comes to political opposition.

“Companies ought to very fastidiously observe development strains related to judicial independence, and freedom of knowledge and entry to info,” Tong added.

“Data is what drives enterprise in a service financial system like Hong Kong, and any new steps to make use of Hong Kong legislation to clamp down on political exercise have the potential, finally, to additionally affect the business legislation surroundings,” he stated.

Further reporting by Hayley Wong

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