TOKYO • Japan wants to take the lead among the Group of Seven (G-7) nations on issuing a statement about the situation in Hong Kong, where China is pushing to impose a new security law, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday.
“Obviously, we acknowledge the G-7 has a mission to lead the global public opinion and Japan wants to take a lead in issuing a statement based on ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong,” Mr Abe told Parliament.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that Beijing expressed “grave concerns” to Japan about Mr Abe’s remarks and said Hong Kong is “entirely China’s internal affairs”.
“The relevant country should abide by international laws and basic principles of international relations,” she said.
Japan had already issued a statement independently expressing serious concern about Beijing’s move on May 28, the day China approved a resolution to draft a national security law for Hong Kong, and called in the Chinese ambassador to convey its views.
The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada have criticised China for moving to impose the security law on Hong Kong, which they said would breach the 1984 Sino-British agreement on the former colony and threaten its freedoms.
The legislation has reignited demonstrations in Hong Kong, following months of pro-democracy protests last year triggered by opposition to a since-scrapped Bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland.
Hong Kong police arrested 53 people during protests on Tuesday evening that saw hundreds of activists take to the streets, at times blocking roads in the heart of the global financial hub, before police fired pepper spray to disperse crowds. Police said yesterday that 36 males and 17 females were arrested for offences including unlawful assembly and participating in unauthorised assembly.
Protesters had defied a ban on gatherings of more than eight people introduced by the Hong Kong government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
More protests are planned in the coming days, with pro-democracy supporters fearing the national security legislation will dramatically stifle freedoms in the city.
While details of the security law or how it will operate have yet to be revealed, the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have said there is no cause for concern and the legislation will target a minority of “troublemakers”.
TAKING A STAND
Obviously, we acknowledge the G-7 has a mission to lead the global public opinion and Japan wants to take a lead in issuing a statement based on ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong.
JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE, on China’s new security law for Hong Kong.
The standing committee of the National People’s Congress, the top decision-making body of the Chinese Parliament, will meet in Beijing later this month to deliberate on various pieces of draft legislation, official media reported yesterday.
The reports did not specify whether any laws regarding Hong Kong were on the agenda for the June 18 to 20 meeting.
Hong Kong Security Secretary John Lee told the South China Morning Post in an interview published yesterday that local police were setting up a dedicated unit to enforce the law and it would have intelligence-gathering, investigation and training capabilities.
Companies, including HSBC and Standard Chartered, have backed the security law without knowing the details of it, drawing criticism from some investors and US and British officials.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo singled out HSBC on Tuesday, saying such “corporate kowtows” got little in return from Beijing and criticising the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “coercive bullying tactics”. “The United States stands with our allies and partners against the Chinese Communist Party’s coercive bullying tactics,” Mr Pompeo said in a statement, his latest swipe at China’s ruling party.
He said the CCP’s “browbeating” of HSBC “should serve as a cautionary tale” and referred to the bank’s Asia-Pacific CEO, Mr Peter Wong, signing a petition supporting Beijing’s plans to impose new security legislation on Hong Kong.
“That show of fealty seems to have earned HSBC little respect in Beijing, which continues to use the bank’s business in China as political leverage against London,” he said.
Mr Pompeo said Australia, Denmark “and other free nations” had faced pressure from Beijing, and it showed why countries needed to avoid economic over-reliance on China and to guard their critical infrastructure from CCP influence.
“Free nations deal in true friendship and desire mutual prosperity, not political and corporate kowtows,” he said.
Ms Hua, the Chinese ministry spokesman, said Beijing hopes the US will stop using Hong Kong to stoke fires and interfere in China’s affairs.