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US Bills on Hong Kong will ‘harm relations and common interests’: Hong Kong government

US Bills on Hong Kong will ‘harm relations and common interests’: Hong Kong government

FILE PHOTO: Police detain protesters who attempt to leave the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) during clashes with police in Hong Kong, China November 18, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

HONG KONG: Two Bills passed by the US Senate and aimed at protecting human rights in Hong Kong will “harm relations and common interests” between the city and the United Sates, Hong Kong said on Wednesday (Nov 20).

On Tuesday, the US Senate unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which will require US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to certify a least once a year that the city retains enough anonymity to qualify for special US trading consideration.

The second Bill, also passed without opposition, bans the export of certain munitions to the Hong Kong police force. These items include tear gas, rubber bullets and stun guns.

Commentary: This may be the end of Hong Kong as we know it

In a statement on Wednesday, the Hong Kong government said it “expressed deep regret” over the passage of both Bills.

Calling them “unnecessary and unwarranted”, a government spokesman said it would harm the common interests between the US and Hong Kong.

He said the “one country, two systems” principle has been “fully and successfully implemented” and that safeguarding human rights and freedoms is a constitutional duty of the government.

“Human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong are fully protected by the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other legislation, in addition to the Basic Law,” he said.

“Also, the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force. 

“The HKSAR Government attaches great importance to human rights and freedoms and is determined to safeguard them.”

Hong Kong has been hit by months of violent protests, sparked by a now-withdrawn Bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.

The government spokesman said there have been more than 700 demonstrations in Hong Kong since June this year.

“Many of them have eventually turned into violent illegal activities. In response, the police have been exercising restraint and have been carrying out enforcement actions in strict accordance with the law,” he said, adding that the police have “to take appropriate actions”.

READ: Options narrow for last Hong Kong campus protesters as arrests take a toll

“NEGATIVE IMPACT ON RELATIONS”

The spokesman said Hong Kong’s unique status was not “unilaterally granted by any country”, but enshrined in its law.

“The unique status of Hong Kong has all along been widely recognised and respected by the international community,” he added.

“Hong Kong's economic and trade status is also the same as that of other members of the World Trade Organization.  

“Hong Kong has therefore established mutually beneficial co-operative relationship with various trade partners in the world including the US.”

There are 1,344 US companies in Hong Kong, of which 278 are regional headquarters, he noted. About 85,000 US citizens live in the city as well.

“Any unilateral change of US economic and trade policy towards Hong Kong will create negative impact on the relations between the two sides as well as US' own interests."

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

Follow us on Telegram for the latest on Hong Kong: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: CNA/mi

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