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H.Kong Leader: Foreign Double Standards06/03 06:30

   

   BEIJING (AP) -- Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam accused foreign critics on 
Wednesday of displaying "blatant double standards" over moves by Beijing to 
strengthen control over the semi-autonomous territory.

   British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced earlier that his country is 
ready to open the door to almost 3 million Hong Kong citizens if China enacts a 
national security law for the city.

   Following talks with officials in Beijing, Lam said China has the same right 
as the U.S. and Britain to enact legislation protecting its national security 
and that foreign criticism and threats of sanctions could not be justified. She 
also said China was compelled to take the step at the national level because 
opposition in Hong Kong's own legislature and among government critics made it 
impossible to do so locally.

   "I can only say that the international community and some of the foreign 
governments have been adopting blatant double standards in dealing with this 
matter and commenting on this matter," Lam said.

   "It is within the legitimate jurisdiction of any country to enact laws to 
protect and safeguard national security. U.S.A. is no exception. U.K. is no 
exception," Lam said. "So why should they object, resist or even condemn and 
take their sanctions against Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China for 
taking similar actions?"

   Johnson said in a column published online by the South China Morning Post, a 
Hong Kong newspaper, that the security law would curtail freedoms in Hong Kong 
and conflict with China's obligations under its agreement with the United 
Kingdom when it took back the former British colony in 1997.

   "Many people in Hong Kong fear their way of life  which China pledged to 
uphold  is under threat," he wrote. "If China proceeds to justify their 
fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk 
away."

   China shocked many of Hong Kong's 7.5 million people when it announced 
earlier this month that it will enact a national security law for the city, 
which was promised a high level of autonomy outside of foreign and defense 
affairs.

   In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian reiterated China's 
stance that the agreement with the U.K., known as the Sino-British Joint 
Declaration, was essentially null and void.

   "The U.K. has had no sovereignty, governance or supervision over Hong Kong 
since its return (to Chinese rule)," Zhao said at a daily briefing.

   "Therefore, the British side has no right to cite the Sino-British Joint 
Declaration to make irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs and interfere in 
China's internal affairs," Zhao said.

   In her comments, Lam appeared to agree, saying she was operating under Hong 
Kong's Basic Law, its mini-constitution, despite critics saying China's 
legislature used highly dubious legal grounds to circumvent Hong Kong's 
legislature in moving forward with the security legislation.

   An earlier push to pass security legislation was shelved after massive Hong 
Kong street protests against it in 2003. However, Beijing appeared to lose all 
patience after months of sometimes violent anti-government protests in Hong 
Kong last year that China said was an attempt to split the territory off from 
the rest of China.

   The standing committee of China's National People's Congress could enact the 
law later this month or at the end of August, analysts have said.

   About 350,000 Hong Kong citizens hold British National Overseas passports, a 
legacy of the colonial era, and 2.5 million others are eligible to apply for 
them, Johnson said in his column. Long lines have formed at DHL courier offices 
in the city since the announcement as people rush to apply for or renew their 
BNO passports.

   Johnson, echoing earlier statements by Cabinet ministers, said that if China 
imposes a national security law, Britain would allow holders of the BNO 
passports to remain for 12 months on a renewable basis and would grant them the 
right to work, placing them on a possible path to U.K. citizenship.

   "This would amount to one of the biggest changes in our visa system in 
British history," Johnson wrote, adding, "I hope it will not come to this."

   BNO passport holders currently can stay in the U.K. for only up to six 
months.

   The security legislation also met with stinging criticism from the United 
States. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last 
week that Hong Kong is no longer autonomous and will be stripped of its 
preferential trade and commercial status.

   Separately on Wednesday, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong called 
on leaders in Europe to oppose the national security law, saying it erodes the 
"one country, two systems" framework promised to the semi-autonomous Chinese 
territory.

   Wong said that after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose 
sanctions on Hong Kong last week, the momentum should be kept to build a 
"global alliance to stand with Hong Kong."

 
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