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'It's Sad That Hong Kong Is Dead'

Newser — Rob Quinn

China's new Hong Kong national security law is "a brutal, sweeping crackdown against the people of Hong Kong, intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday as the House unanimously passed new sanctions.

The bill targets Chinese officials behind the draconian law, banks who do business with them, and Hong Kong police units that have quashed protests, Politico reports.

The Senate passed a similar measure last week and President Trump could sign the legislation as soon as Thursday. "All freedom-loving people must condemn this horrific law," Pelosi said.

The law, which Beijing rushed to approve Tuesday, introduces harsh penalties for activities deemed to be subversive or secessionist. More:

  • China threatens UK over residency offer.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that the UK would make good on its promise to offer residency and a path to citizenship for around 3 million people in its former colony, the Guardian reports.

Beijing, however, has threatened to block Hong Kongers from emigrating to Britain. A foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday that Beijing would take countermeasures and Britain "would bear all the consequences" if it gave residency to Hong Kongers fleeing the law.

  • For and against: Axios has the list of 53 countries that publicly backed China in a statement at the UN Human Rights Council.

Most are autocratic states. Another 27 nations criticized the law. The US withdrew from the council in 2018 and isn't on either list.

  • "It's sad that Hong Kong is dead." Pro-democracy Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai tells the AP that the "very draconian but also very vague" law will kill Hong Kong as he knows it.

"It’s worse than the worst scenario imagined. Hong Kong is totally subdued, totally under control," he says. “It’s sad that Hong Kong is dead." He says that while his family might have to leave, he plans to stay and somehow keep up the fight for Hong Kong's freedoms.

  • Australia will also offer haven. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the country is planning to offer a haven for Hong Kong residents fleeing the territory, reports the Financial Times. He said Australia has already drafted proposals similar to the British offer. China warned Australia against moving down the "wrong path."
  • Law has a long reach. The BBC looks at some of the law's more chilling provisions, including Article 38, which states that it applies to foreign nationals outside Hong Kong, meaning anybody who has offended Chinese or Hong Kong authorities could be in trouble if they visit the territory. The law also says alleged subversives can face penalties of up to life in prison. It allows mainland officers to freely operate in the territory—and allows Hong Kongers to be taken to the mainland for secret trials and indefinite detention.
  • 370 arrests made. Police fired tear gas and made hundreds of arrests Wednesday as thousands protested the new law, reports the Wall Street Journal. Authorities said by the end of the day, 370 people had been arrested, including 10 who will be charged under the new law. Some of them had displayed flags calling for Hong Kong's independence. Police said people chanting pro-independence slogans were "suspected to be inciting or abetting others to commit secession."
  • Chill descends on Hong Kong. The sudden introduction of the new law sent a "chill over the city," with residents deleting social media accounts to remove evidence of anti-Beijing sentiment, reports the New York Times. A museum commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre said it was racing against time to digitize its archives, and a site that publishes pro-democracy articles said it had received more than 100 requests from writers to have their articles deleted.
  • Restaurant forced to remove "Lennon Wall." A pro-democracy "yellow" restaurant in Hong Kong said police told it Thursday to remove its "Lennon Wall" of pro-democracy messages, RTHK reports. It said officers told it the messages could breach the national security law. Pro-democracy businesses are called "yellow" after the color of umbrellas used to shield demonstrators from pepper spray, notes the New York Times.

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