Amidst reports the US is preparing a range of economic sanctions a Chinese financial authority source warned Washington against any retaliation. Speaking to the South China Morning Post they said: “The Chinese mainland and Hong Kong financial authorities certainly have prearranged plans.
“We won’t allow others to threaten or make trouble freely.”
Britain has strongly condemned the Chinese move which it considers a breach of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration which led to Hong Kong being returned to Beijing.
Under the terms of the agreement China pledged to maintain “one country, two systems” for another fifty years meaning Hong Kong’s autonomy and mode of government would be protected.
However according to the UK Government the new Chinese security laws, details of which were announced this week, are a clear violation of this promise.
China has warned the US against further economic sanctions
Police firing tear gas at pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong last year
The Chinese financial authority source added: “Sanctions do good to the Chinese economy and finance, so they do no good to the global and US economies.
“It will dampen the confidence of international market participants, and increase the systemic risks to the global economy, international markets, and particularly American financial markets.”
In response to the security laws the Boris Johnson pledged up to three million Hong Kong residents, who are entitled to British National Overseas Passports, would be allowed to settle in the UK and could eventually gain citizenship.
Anyone born in Hong Kong prior to 1997 who registered to have it is entitled to British National Overseas citizenship giving them some of the protections UK citizens enjoy.
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Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong use umbrellas to protect from water cannon
The offer will also apply to their dependents, notable as many of the protest leaders who have been defying Beijing were born since 1997.
Under the Government’s plans eligible Hong Kong residents will get the right to stay in the UK for five years, during which they may work or study, after which they can apply for settled status then full British citizenship.
Condemning the new Chinese laws Boris Johnson said: “It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration.
“We made clear that if China continued down this path we would introduce a new route for those with British National (Overseas) status to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship.
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Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong
Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters wave British and colonial era flags
“And that is precisely what we will do now.”
Last year Hong Kong was rocked by massive pro-democracy protests who objected to efforts to integrate the city closer with mainland China.
Some of these demonstrations turned violent, with protestors and police exchanging petrol bombs and tear gas cannisters.
Under China’s new national security laws protectors now risk being arrested for sedition which carried a heavy jail term.
However some pro-democracy protests have continued in the city.
Beijing has announced Zheng Yanxiong, widely considered a hardliner, to head its now Hong Kong security agency.
A number of leading pro-democracy activists, such as legislator and former student leader Nathan Law, have already fled the territory.
Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading financial centres
Relations between Beijing and some of the world’s other great powers have declined sharply over the past few months over territorial disputes, China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and trade disagreements.
Last month 20 Indian soldiers were killed during hand-to-hand fighting in the contested Ladakh region of the Himalayas.
The violence also reportedly led to a large number of Chinese casualties though Beijing has refused to release an official figure.