HONG KONG — Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers sharply criticized China’s move to take over long-stalled efforts to enact national security legislation in the semi-autonomous territory, saying it goes against the “one country, two systems” framework under which Beijing promised the city freedoms not found on the mainland.
The proposed bill, submitted Friday on the opening day of China’s national legislative session, would forbid secessionist and subversive activity, as well as foreign interference and terrorism. It comes after months of pro-democracy demonstrations last year that at times descended into violence between police and protesters.
The bill, among the most controversial items on the agenda of the National People’s Congress in years, drew strong rebukes from the U.S. government and rights groups. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the move, saying “the decision to bypass Hong Kong’s well-established legislative processes and ignore the will of the people of Hong Kong would be a death knell for the high degree of autonomy Beijing promised.”