Beijing slams U.S. intrusion in Article 23 debate, alleges hostility to Hong Kong security

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29th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) The close of public consultation on the Article 23 has sparked a war of words between the United States and China. A statement from the U.S. State Department has raised alarm over the potential erosion of the ‘one country, two systems’ framework, voicing concerns that the legislation could be used as a tool for intimidation beyond borders, citing ambiguous definitions surrounding ‘disclosure of state secrets’ and ‘foreign interference crimes’ which could be exploited to silence dissent.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s office in Hong Kong responded vehemently today, accusing the U.S. State Department of overstepping its bounds by making unwarranted comments on Hong Kong’s internal affairs and China’s domestic policies. The office expressed “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to the US statement, underscoring China’s resolute support for the Special Administrative Region’s government to fulfil its legislative duties regarding Article 23. It urged the U.S. to adhere to the principles of international law and the basic norms of international relations, demanding an immediate halt to any pretext of interference in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s internal politics.

According to the spokesperson from the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Hong Kong office, the fear surrounding the legislation is unfounded and only serves the interests of those who wish to see Hong Kong remain unstable.

The spokesperson further argued that the completion of Article 23 legislation is a constitutional responsibility of Hong Kong and noted the broad support from major political and social groups during the public consultation period. This, they claimed, demonstrates a strong consensus within the society on the necessity, importance, and urgency of the legislation.

In defending the legislation, the spokesperson maintained that Article 23 would not affect the high degree of autonomy Hong Kong enjoys under the Basic Law, nor would it diminish the rights and freedoms of its residents. They stated that only those with ulterior motives against China and those who wish to create chaos in Hong Kong have reason to fear the legislation.

The Chinese spokesperson criticised the United States’ practices of ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ and ‘transnational repression,’ suggesting the U.S. has its own rigorous and opaque national security laws. The US is accused of superseding international law with its domestic laws, exerting unilateral sanctions, and engaging in clandestine surveillance and backroom deals to suppress dissent, thereby infringing on the sovereignty and interests of other nations.