Hong Kong Firmly Rejects US Criticism Over National Security Crackdown
Hong Kong has turned down the U.S. government’s report that condemned China for perpetuating an undermining of the rule of law and freedom in the area under a national security crackdown. The State Department’s 2023 Hong Kong Policy Act Report claimed that the Chinese and Hong Kong governments kept using ‘national security’ as a wide and uncertain excuse to violate the rule of law and safeguarded liberties. Last June, China introduced a new national security law for Hong Kong that made offences such as subversion punishable with potential life imprisonment which was done without any input from the local legislature or consultation.
The U.S. report states that people are being arrested and prosecuted for peaceful political expression critical of the local and central governments. This includes posting or forwarding social media posts. U.S. officials believe this is an attempt to undermine Hong Kong’s rule of law. They have called for a strong response from China to any efforts to suppress dissent.
The Hong Kong government spokesperson dismissed the U.S. report as containing baseless and distorted assertions. They added that any effort to disrupt the stability and success of Hong Kong will be an unfruitful demonstration of their own deficiencies in the argument. The importance of national security is paramount, they continued, asserting that everyone must remain equal under the law no matter their political alignment or history.
Hong Kong has arrested over 230 people since 2020 for alleged acts that endanger national security, including 47 prominent Democrats undergoing a landmark trial for subversion conspiracy. Several factors, including tight COVID restrictions and national security, led to a drop in the number of U.S. citizens living in Hong Kong from 85,000 in 2021 to around 70,000, according to the U.S. report.
China is increasingly exercising police and security power in Hong Kong, putting U.S. citizens at an increased risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution in Hong Kong if they are publicly critical of it. Hong Kong’s government travel advisories have noted these risks.
A resolution urging a strong U.S. government response, including sanctions, to any Chinese attempts to suppress dissent in Hong Kong was co-sponsored this month by forty of the 100 senators.
The situation in Hong Kong continues to be a source of tension between the U.S. and China. China maintains its right to maintain law and order in Hong Kong and protect its national security, despite repeated criticism from the U.S. As the trial of 47 prominent democrats continues, it remains to be seen how the U.S. and China will navigate this ongoing dispute.