US, China lock horns over new security laws in Hong Kong

United Nations: The US and China clashed over Hong Kong at the UN Security Council, with Washington calling a meeting over the controversial national security law introduced by Beijing to tighten its control on the former British colony.

The US Mission to the UN on Wednesday said Washington was “deeply concerned by actions taken by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) National People’s Congress that fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and freedoms as guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, which was registered with the UN as a legally binding treaty and the Basic Law (of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region).

“This is a matter of urgent global concern that implicates international peace and security, and warrants the immediate attention of the UN Security Council,” the US Mission said.

The US mission added that the United States had called for a virtual meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday to discuss these acts and China’s proposed national security law that would threaten Hong Kong’s democratic institutions and civil liberties.

“Such actions confirm the PRC’s contempt and complete disregard for its international obligations,” it said.

China’s Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun hit back at the US, saying Beijing categorically rejects the baseless request of the US for a Security Council meeting.

“Legislation on national security for Hong Kong is purely China’s internal affairs. It has nothing to do with the mandate of the Security Council, he tweeted.

The Chinese envoy added that “facts prove again and again that the US is the troublemaker of the world.”

“It is the US who has violated its commitments under the international law. China urges the US to immediately stop its power politics and bullying practices,” the Chinese envoy said.

China on Friday last introduced the draft of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong in its parliament to tighten Beijing’s control over the former British colony, in what could be the biggest blow to the territory’s autonomy and personal freedoms since 1997 when it came under Chinese rule.

Hong Kong, an economic powerhouse, is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. It has observed a “one country, two systems” policy since Britain returned sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997, which has allowed it certain freedoms the rest of China does not have.

The US mission on Wednesday said that as expected China had refused to allow this virtual meeting to proceed in the Security Council.

“This is another example of the Chinese Communist Party’s fear of transparency and international accountability for its actions, and belief that it can exploit the current global health pandemic to distract the world from its intended assault on Hong Kong and abrogation of its own commitments to the Hong Kong people.”

It added that China’s action, coupled with Beijing’s “gross cover-up and mismanagement” of the COVID-19 crisis, its “constant violations of international human rights commitments, and its unlawful behaviour in the South China Sea, should make obvious to all that Beijing is not behaving as a responsible UN member state.”

The US called on China to immediately reverse course and honour its promises under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Meanwhile, Russia spoke out in support of China. Moscow’s First Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy tweeted, “(The) US request to hold SC meeting on #hongkong looks like a mere provocation and abuse of SC (security council) mandate.

“We never discuss internal matters of member-states. It’s like opening a Pandora’s box and could make damage for the US itself and our colleagues surely understand this.

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