Troubled relations between the United States and China are set to worsen further as the latter brings in a new security law for Hong Kong.
New Law To Target Anti-Beijing Protestors
The Chinese lawmakers on Friday proposed a draft of the legislation for a national security law in the autonomous city, the South China Morning Post reported.
According to the SCMP, once passed, the law will criminalize all activities deemed seditious against the national government.
"We will establish sound legal systems and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the two [special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao], and see that the governments of the two regions fulfill their constitutional responsibilities," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the opening of the annual session of the Chinese apex legislative body, the National People's Congress (NPC).
Details of the draft legislation remain unclear, but according to analysts, it could be the latest attempt by Beijing to crush anti-China protests and strengthen its control over the city, the SCMP noted.
The NPC is likely to vote on the law before the end of May, as per the SCMP.
The Chinese government's last attempt at bringing a similar law in 2003 had to be shelved when about 500,000 Hong Kongers took to the streets to protest.
Activists in Hong Kong are already planning a protest march against the latest legislation, according to the SCMP.
US To Oppose Legislation
The United States government has also objected to any move by Beijing to take away Hong Kong's autonomy.
President Donald Trump said on the details of the Chinese laws that "nobody knows yet," the SCMP reported. "If it happens, we'll address the issue very strongly."
In a statement, the U.S. Department of State called on Beijing to "honor its commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration," which it said, "are key to preserving Hong Kong's special status in international affairs, and, consistent with US law, the United States' current treatment of Hong Kong".
Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed last year with bipartisan support requires U.S. Secretary of State to testify every year that the city retains enough autonomy from Beijing to warrant its special trade status.
The city's benchmark Hang Seng Index was down almost 5% at press time at 23,075.