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China’s decision to enact national security legislation on Hong Kong has brought yet another wave of international concern to China’s doorstep via the United Nations. But that body's Security Council has failed to condemn China's actions against the city.
Representatives from both the United States and the United Kingdom directed the attention of the United Nations’ Security Council to Hong Kong’s threatened political autonomy on Friday.
The conversation about China's role in squashing Hong Kong's autonomy is quickly gathering tension.
The National People’s Congress (NPC) of China passed legislation for a security this past week that would protect against subversion, secession, and terrorism, as well as making illegal the mocking of the Chinese national anthem. This is a law that would unilaterally apply to the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.
To many onlookers, such as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the NPC’s decision is regarded as a direct move against protestors in Hong Kong. It raises fears of China’s encroachment on the civil liberties of citizens in the free city.
China has claimed that its dealings with Hong Kong is none of the UN’s business. But countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom disagree.
China’s domestic legislation was already addressed on Wednesday by the United States at the UN Security Council, but the conversation stopped there when China and Russia objected to the raising of the issue at the Security Council.
They struck down the topic, asserting that the conflict with Hong Kong and the recently passed legislation were not matters of international peace or security but instead a matter of domestic turmoil and therefore irrelevant for the purposes of the Security Council.
Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, was quick to come to China’s defense.
"Why [does the] US deny China’s right to restore peace & order in Hong Kong while brutally dispersing crowds at home?" Polyanskiy asked on Twitter.
But both the United Kingdom and the United States decided to informally raise the subject again.
Kelly Craft, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations called upon the fifteen members of the Security Council to hold China accountable on an international level. She did not try to mask her words, but instead flatly accused China of a hollow promise of freedom towards Hong Kong.
"The United States is resolute, and calls upon all UN member states to join us in demanding that the PRC immediately reverse course and honor its international legal commitments to this institution and to the Hong Kong people," Craft said.
Craft and representatives from the UK are now calling for increased security measures against Chinese domestic policy.
While the Security Council will have to make a decision about how to address the issue, other nations are already taking aggressive action against China.
Pompeo declared on last week that Hong Kong is no longer an autonomous entity—a declaration that effectively revokes trading privileges that currently makes the city one of the world’s most influential trading sites.
The Trump administration has already begun to revoke those trading privileges, putting economic pressure on China. The message from the US is that China’s actions towards citizens in Hong Kong will not go unanswered.
"I am directing my administration to begin the process of eliminating policy exemptions that give Hong Kong different and special treatment," Trump told reporters on Friday.