Canada joins cho­rus warn­ing China

National Post (National Edition) - - WORLD - The Daily Tele­graph, with files from Na­tional Post

Canada warned China to re­spect the au­ton­omy of Hong Kong af­ter the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party sub­mit­ted plans for a con­tro­ver­sial new law that could crush dis­sent in the for­mer Bri­tish colony.

The in­ter­ven­tion came as Hong Kong braced for its first mass pro-democ­racy protests for months af­ter Bei­jing said it would by­pass the city’s leg­is­la­ture to bring in sweep­ing new pow­ers lim­it­ing free­dom.

At the open­ing of its Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress (NPC) this week, Li Ke­qiang, the Chi­nese premier, said China would es­tab­lish a “sound” le­gal sys­tem and en­force­ment mech­a­nisms to en­sure na­tional se­cu­rity in Hong Kong and Ma­cau.

The plan was con­demned as an as­sault on Hong Kong’s free­doms, with Mike Pom­peo, the U.S. Sec­re­tary of State call­ing it a “death knell” for the city’s high de­gree of au­ton­omy.

On Fri­day, François-Philippe Cham­pagne, for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter, joined his coun­ter­parts from Bri­tain and Aus­tralia in a state­ment that said they were “deeply con­cerned” at the new law.

Un­der a Joint Dec­la­ra­tion, signed when Hong Kong be­came a Chi­nese re­gion, rather than a Bri­tish colony, in 1997, “China pledged to re­spect the ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’ prin­ci­ple, guar­an­tee­ing Hong Kong free­doms not seen on the main­land,” said the state­ment.

It added, “Mak­ing such a law on Hong Kong’s be­half with­out the di­rect par­tic­i­pa­tion of its peo­ple, leg­is­la­ture


or ju­di­ciary would clearly un­der­mine the ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’ prin­ci­ple un­der which Hong Kong is guar­an­teed a high de­gree of au­ton­omy.”

At his daily press con­fer­ence, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau called for di­a­logue and a de-es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions.

“We are con­cerned with the sit­u­a­tion in Hong Kong. We have 300,000 Cana­di­ans who live in Hong Kong, and that’s one of the rea­sons why we want to en­sure that the one coun­try, two sys­tems ap­proach con­tin­ues for Hong Kong.”

On Thurs­day, Trudeau took a rare swipe at Bei­jing when he ac­cused China of the “ar­bi­trary” ar­rest of two Cana­di­ans in “re­tal­i­a­tion” over Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, who was ar­rested by Van­cou­ver po­lice in De­cem­ber 2018 and is fight­ing ex­tra­di­tion to the United States on fraud charges.

“China doesn’t work quite the same way and (doesn’t) seem to un­der­stand that we do have an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary from po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion,” he said.

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