China hit with US visa restrictions over Hong Kong Security Laws

Comments by Sanwar Ali:

Updated 1 July 2020:

300 demonstrators in Hong Kong have been arrested, some shouting  “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”  May be charged with national security crimes.   Riot police have fired pepper balls towards the crowds from an armoured vehicle.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced that eligible Hong Kong citizens would be offered 5 years entry to the UK, with the ability to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK at the end of five years and eventual UK citizenship.  Potentially this will benefit 3 million people.

China’s shocking attacks on freedom of speech has justifiably drawn international condemnation.  The wide ranging legislation of the type likely to be used by a "Police State" to crush opposition, puts Hong Kong firmly under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party.  There are possible life sentences for “crimes” such as subversion of state power and collusion with foreign forces. 

The law covers anyone anywhere in the World even if they are not Hong Kong residents.  There must be many who are now scared of even visiting Hong Kong.   The law even has restrictions on all types of non violent protest.   This is particularly worrying as China has been accused of running “Concentration Camps” on the mainland.  

Trump has said that the US will end Hong Kong’s privileged trade status.  Weapons and sensitive technology will no longer be exported to China.  Further measures are likely to be taken.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged China to "step back from the brink" and had the following to say:

"The success of Hong Kong, the entrepreneurial spirit, the vibrancy, the economic success, has been built on its autonomy in 'one country, two systems'... That clearly is at threat."

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel had the following to say:

 "It risks seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong and will have a detrimental impact on the judiciary and the rule of law and we deplore this decision."

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has announced a series of US visa restrictions imposed on current and former members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The move comes  due to Chinese security laws undermining freedoms in Hong Kong.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered UK visas to up to three million Hong Kong citizens due to new security legislation.

The Chinese parliament met from Sunday 28 June for a three-day meeting to discuss the legislation.  It has now been passed and will see Chinese security agencies in Hong Kong territory for the first time.

Chinese embassy says US visa restrictions are a mistake 

US-China relations have deteriorated in recent years amid a series of rows over trade and immigration, which has included a number of tit for tat visa restrictions on journalists and government officials.

Recently, a high-level Chinese military officer was arrested and charged with J1 visa fraud, after being caught stealing research from the University of California.

The Chinese embassy in Washington slammed Mr Pompeo’s announcement, saying “we firmly oppose the US side’s wrongful decisions.”

The embassy also took to Twitter, tweeting: “We urge the US side to immediately correct its mistakes, withdraw the decision and stop interfering in China’s domestic affairs.”

Hong Kong trade with US

In May, Trump further fuelled the USA’s spat with China by threatening to end preferential treatment for Hong Kong in trade and travel, because of Beijing’s plans.   This is now happening.

Commenting on China’s threats to suppress freedoms in Hong Kong, Trump said: “Beijing is replacing its promised formula of One Country, Two Systems with One Country, One System. This is a tragedy for Hong Kong... China has smothered Hong Kong's freedom.”

The legislation has now been passed and is now in force in Hong Kong. While the intention has always been for Hong Kong to have a security law, the region has until recently been unable to pass one because of its unpopularity.

China steps in with harsh security laws

As a result, Beijing has stepped in to make sure that Hong Kong has a legal framework to deal with what China describes as ‘serious challenges to its authority.’

The legislation makes it a crime for Hong Kong to:

  • Break away from mainland China
  • Undermine the power and authority of China’s central government
  • Use violence or intimidation against people
  • Allow foreign forces to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs

Critics of China’s legislation fear that it will result in people being punished for disparaging Beijing, which is what happens in mainland China.

China responds to US visa restrictions

Perhaps unsurprisingly, China has responded to US threats in similar fashion. Beijing has said it will impose visa restrictions on US individuals with “egregious conduct” on Hong Kong-related issues.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, said: “The US is attempting to obstruct China’s legislation for safeguarding national security in the HK SAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) by imposing the so-called sanctions, but it will never succeed.”

“In response ... China has decided to impose visa restrictions on US individuals with egregious conduct on HK related issues,” Lijian added.

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