President Donald Trump at his White House daily press briefing threatened China with a “very strong response” if its National People’s Congress implements a national security law which abides to Article of 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic law constitution, preventing secessionist and treason acts against the state. The Congress, China’s National Legislative body in its two sessions had announced such a law will be debated and discussed this week.
The threats comes amid Washington having passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act last December which mandated a review of Hong Kong’s autonomous status and stipulated the power of the U.S executive to review this and impose sanctions on officials if they violated such. The move came in encouragement of often violent Democracy protests which rocked the territory in 2019. The act was passed almost unanimously by congress, however at the time, with the President intent on securing a trade deal with Beijing, Trump did not openly support it.
Now however, with the President having weaponized anti-China sentiment in the fallout of the covid-19 pandemic, with the U.S economy in ruins, the White House is intent to whip up tensions with Beijing for its own electoral gain. Hong Kong is likely to be the latest spat, with critics claiming that such a law violates Hong Kong’s autonomy, despite the fact it the mandating of such legislation has been an article of the city’s mini-constitution since the handover in 1997.
In practice however, China’s National People’s Congress has the right of constitutional provision, legislative power and interpretation over the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region as the country’s primary legislative body. Although Beijing is mandated by the Sino-British declaration of 1984 to sustain a “High degree of auonomy” within the city, it was never truly independent from China’s legal structure, an aspect often overlooked by critics.