China Set to Impose New Hong Kong Security Law, Trump Warns of US Reaction

Written By BlabberBuzz | Source: NewsMax America | Friday, 22 May 2020 01:30

China is set to impose new national security legislation on Hong Kong after last year's pro-democracy unrest, a Chinese official said on Thursday, drawing a warning from President Donald Trump that Washington would react "very strongly" against the attempt to gain more control over the former British colony.

The U.S. State Department also warned China, saying a high-degree of autonomy and respect for human rights were key to preserving the territory's special status in U.S. law, which has helped it maintain its position as a world financial center.

China's action could spark fresh protests in Hong Kong, which enjoys many freedoms not allowed on the mainland, after often violent demonstrations of 2019 plunged the city into its deepest turmoil since it returned to Beijing's rule in 1997.

Trump, who has ratcheted up his anti-China rhetoric as he seeks re-election in November, told reporters "nobody knows yet" the details of China's plan. "If it happens we'll address that issue very strongly," he said.

Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the China's National People's Congress, said details of the legislation would be given on Friday when the parliament holds its annual session.

"In light of the new circumstances and need, the National People's Congress (NPC) is exercising its constitutional power" to establish a new legal framework and enforcement mechanism to safeguard national security in Hong Kong, he told a briefing.

The "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act" approved by Trump last year requires the State Department to certify at least annually that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to justify favorable U.S. trading terms.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on May 6 he was delaying this assessment to account for any NPC actions.

If the State Department decertifies the territory, it would still ultimately fall to Trump whether to decide to end some, all, or none of the privileges Hong Kong currently enjoys.

On Thursday, Democratic and Republican U.S. senators said they would introduce legislation to strengthen the Hong Kong act's sanctions provisions.

"A further crackdown from Beijing will only intensify the Senate’s interest in re-examining the U.S.-China relationship,” U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said in a statement.

Wall Street ended lower on Thursday as U.S.-China tensions raised doubts about a trade deal reached this year between the world’s two largest economies. Tensions have heightened significantly in recent weeks, with bitter exchanges over the coronavirus.

Pro-democracy demonstrators have for years opposed the idea of national security laws, arguing they could erode the city's high degree of autonomy, guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" formula in place for two decades.

A senior Hong Kong government official said details on the move and its implementation remained unclear, but Hong Kong media have reported the legislation would ban secession, foreign interference, terrorism and all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said any Chinese move to impose legislation that did not reflect the will of the people would be highly destabilizing and met with strong condemnation.

Ending Hong Kong's special status would be a big blow for U.S. firms. The State Department says 85,000 U.S. citizens lived in Hong Kong in 2018 and more than 1,300 U.S. companies operate there, including nearly every major U.S. financial firm.

A previous attempt to introduce Hong Kong national security legislation, known as Article 23, in 2003 was met with mass peaceful protests and shelved.

Online posts had urged people in Hong Kong to protest on Thursday night and dozens were seen shouting pro-democracy slogans in a shopping mall as riot police stood nearby.

Opposition lawmakers said the move would gravely wound Hong Kong's reputation as a financial center and its autonomy.

"If this move takes place, 'one country, two systems' will be officially erased," said democratic lawmaker Dennis Kwok. “This is the end of Hong Kong."

Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia until early in the Trump administration, suggested Chinese President Xi Jinping might see "muscle-flexing" on Hong Kong as a means to make up for a series of setbacks, most notably the coronavirus pandemic that began in China - despite the risk of severe economic consequences for Hong Kong, China and others.

Sen. Rick Scott bill would protect coronavirus vaccine research from China

This article was sourced from Foxnews

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., joined several of his GOP Senate colleagues on Thursday in introducing legislation aimed at protecting America's coronavirus vaccine research from interference from China's communist government.

Alongside Republican Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Martha McSally of Arizona, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas, Scott unveiled the "COVID-19 Vaccine Protection Act," to prevent China from "stealing or sabotaging American COVID-19 vaccine research," according to a press release from Scott's office.

The bill will require a national security evaluation and clearance by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the State Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for all Chinese student visa holders who are taking part in any activities related to coronavirus vaccine research.

In a statement about the bill, Scott said, “Communist China is responsible for the Coronavirus pandemic, and their lies and misinformation cost American lives. We cannot let Communist China off the hook for this, and we absolutely cannot allow Communist China to steal or sabotage any American research efforts related to the Coronavirus vaccine. The COVID-19 Vaccine Protection Act protects American efforts to create a vaccine as we work to end this pandemic.”

Blackburn said China's government had stolen U.S. intellectual property in the past and will likely sit back and wait for the researchers to make progress on the vaccine, before capitalizing on their efforts to infiltrate U.S. infrastructure.

“The Chinese Communist Party is notorious for stealing American technology to make up for China’s pitiful inability to self-innovate," she said in a statement. "We will not stand idly by and watch them steal American vaccine research through spies posing as students, which is why I have led efforts to eliminate Confucius Institutes on college campuses. As we race to find a cure for a virus that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans, we need confidence that the CCP does not harm U.S. efforts to create a vaccine.”

Cotton went so far as to suggest that Chinese agents may attempt to sabotage American efforts to find a vaccination for COVID-19, adding that these nefarious actions are par for the when it comes to dealing with Beijing.

“The Chinese Communist Party wants to steal or sabotage the vaccine for the pandemic it caused," he said. "The federal government ought to investigate Chinese nationals taking part in vaccine research to prevent this spying, which follows the same playbook Beijing uses to steal our research in other fields of study.”

In addition to the requirements listed above, the bill will also require the DHS, in consultation with the State Department, Justice Department (DOJ), FBI, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and several other agencies, to complete an enhanced vetting process of Chinese nationals who are currently in the U.S. as nonimmigrants under F, J, or M student visas, so they can determine if any of them pose a threat to America's national security.

After the review, the bill authorizes the DHS secretary to liaise with the agencies previously listed, to continue to monitor all nonimmigrant student visa holders (F, M, and J) who are nationals of the People's Republic of China, while they are in the U.S. "and are engaged in, or have access to, the research of any potential COVID–19 vaccine or COVID–19 related material."

There is also a requirement that there be a briefing to Congress on the results of the review.

This isn't the first time Scott has led the U.S. charge against China. In an exclusive interview with Fox News earlier this month, Scott pledged to hold the Chinse government and the World Health Organization (WHO) accountable for their role in the current pandemic.

"We know the Chinese numbers don't appear to be accurate at all," Scott previously told Fox News. "We have to remember -- every time I talk about China I say, remember it's Communist China, run by the Communist Party of China. Don't ever forget who they are. You may have friends that live in Communist China but they aren't the ones running the country."

He added, "The Communist Party runs the country. They make all these decisions and they're anti-American, they want world domination. They're not a competitor, they are an adversary now."

Scott was also mentioned alongside Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., last week when China's state-run media ominously threatened GOP lawmakers who were publicly critical of the Chinese government.

An article posted on the Global Times, which is a branch of the Communist Party of China's (CPC's) People's Daily, said the nation is "extremely dissatisfied with the abuse of litigation" by U.S. leadership, "and is considering punitive countermeasures against U.S. individuals, entities and state officials."

The story then credited sources as saying: "Republicans who have been groundlessly accusing China and inflaming the 'holding China accountable' political farce will face severe consequences."

Hawley responded to the threats on Twitter, saying, "I'm not backing down."

This article was sourced from NewsMax America