Chinese counter-sanctions on Hong Kong follow US sanctions

Voters vote by scanning a QR code at the primaries of pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong on July 20.

It only took a few hours for Beijing to react strongly to US President Donald Trump’s announcement Tuesday evening in Washington that he had just signed the “Hong Kong autonomy law” and a decree ending preferential economic treatment for Hong Kong, which enjoyed many customs privileges over China.

The law, passed by Congress in early July, targets Chinese officials, Hong Kong police, as well as banks, which it can subject to sanctions if they are identified as helping to erode the territory’s autonomy. Any export of sensitive American technology to the territory will also be prohibited. These two initiatives respond to the new national security law imposed unilaterally by Beijing in Hong Kong on 1er July. Washington called it“Oppressive”.

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China retorted that it firmly opposes the latter measures and that it, in turn, will impose sanctions against American entities and individuals. Through Chinese public television, the Chinese Foreign Ministry found that the American law “Insidiously slandered the new national security law”, and recalled that no foreign country had the right to interfere in the affairs of Hong Kong which were purely the responsibility of Chinese internal affairs.

“An agent of the foreign forces”

This new episode of tensions comes three days after the holding of the primaries of the pro-democracy camp of Hong Kong (opposition), which took place over the weekend, without the approval of the government, but also without its explicit ban. The aim of the exercise was to optimize the opposition’s chances of obtaining the majority of seats in the next legislative elections scheduled for September, by identifying, in advance, the most popular candidates in order to limit the number of lists which in the past have dispersed and wasted opposition votes.

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If the Hong Kong population voted in majority for the pro-democracy camp during the district elections of November 2019, the voting system in the legislative elections favors the pro-Beijing camp; in particular because 30 of the 70 seats in parliament are allocated to representatives of professional sectors, a large part of which is under the control of the establishment. “In the past few months, I have managed to convince most of the groups that make up the opposition camp, including the localists [partis radicaux qui prônent la priorité aux Hongkongais et s’opposent à la continentalisation de Hongkong] and the more traditional democratic parties, to participate in these primaries “, explain to World Benny Tai, professor of law at the University of Hong Kong and lead designer of the operation. “In the past, and due to a lack of coordination, we had never managed to optimize the number of seats that we were able to win. But this time, the scale of the operation and the high participation rate will allow us to streamline the process “, He continues.

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