US House passes bill to sanction Chinese banks over Hong Kong

Demonstrators gesturing the

China's national security law could prompt companies to rethink Hong Kong headquarters, Ross says

"In the face of oppression, tyranny from Beijing, Hong Kong has answered with defiance and unity".

In scenes reminiscent of anti-government protests a year ago, Hong Kong police fired tear gas and pepper balls, and deployed one water cannon to disperse thousands of defiant demonstrators yesterday on the anniversary of the handover to Chinese rule. "And, that is precisely what we will do now", he said.

He said punishments would not include the death penalty, but did not elaborate on further details.

Under a deal ahead of the 1997 handover from Britain, authoritarian China guaranteed Hong Kong civil liberties as well as judicial and legislative autonomy until 2047 in a formula known as "One Country, Two Systems".

It was passed in just six weeks, skipping Hong Kong's fractious legislature, and the precise wording was kept secret until it came into effect late Tuesday.

The statement said that "In any country, the legislative power on national security issues rests with State, which in essence is not a human rights issue", stating that "every country has the right to safeguard its national security through legislation and commend relevant steps taken for this objective".

Demonstrators gesturing the

"The enactment of the national law is regarded as the most significant development in the relationship between the central authorities and the HKSAR since Hong Kong's return to the motherland", chief executive Carrie Lam said in a speech, following a flag-raising ceremony and the playing of China's national anthem.

Not everyone will be extradited (for trial in the mainland), but we have mainland Chinese officials in Hong Kong and they are not accountable to anyone.

They included a man with a Hong Kong independence flag and a woman holding a sign displaying the British flag and calling for Hong Kong's independence.

He said that the central government had not imposed taxes on the city and instead rolled out a series of beneficial measures which showed that it meant well.

Concerns were also expressed in Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary.

"China's disregard for the will of Hong Kong's people proves that "one country, two systems" is not viable", President Tsai Ing-wen said Tuesday on Twitter.

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His death immediately rekindled tensions. "Choosing the first is to willingly aid them in our demise", the prime minister said. But the rise in political activism has also led to an increase in unrest in a country made up of more than 80 ethnic groups.

"It is a law that is really with the explicit intention of bypassing the Hong Kong legislature", she said. The Trump administration has said it will bar defense exports to Hong Kong and will soon require permits for the sale of products that have both civilian and military uses.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described Wednesday's protests as heartbreaking and reprimanded HSBC and other banks for supporting the new law, saying the rights of Hong Kong should not be sacrificed for bankers' bonuses.

As I feared when I addressed the House on 2 June, yesterday the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in Beijing adopted a wide-ranging national security law for Hong Kong.

Beijing insists that it's only looking to boost security with the new law, and is backed by the local authorities in Hong Kong, who see the legislation as a chance to restore order in the special administrative region, which has been gripped by pro-independence protests for more than a year now. They fear its four areas of criminal activity are so ill-defined that the law could be used as an excuse to round up anyone critical of the Chinese government.

"Advocacy for independence of Hong Kong is against the law", security minister John Lee told reporters.

China for years had put off another such effort.

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Earlier, police cited the law for the first time in confronting protesters. Beijing condemned the protests as an attempt to permanently split Hong Kong away from China.

"Beijing has achieved crushing the opposition in Hong Kong, but the price to pay is very high", he said.

Questions linger over the effects on Hong Kong's free press that has come under increasing political and financial pressure, as well as the operations of non-governmental organisations, particularly those with foreign connections.

Many Hong Kongers obtained student visas at one of Taipei's universities after several schools removed visa quotas for Hong Kong nationals late past year. Pro-China figures have also been pushing for more "patriotic" education to be introduced into the curriculum in hopes that will boost their identification with Beijing.

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