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China dismisses US sanction threat over Hong Kong security law

This combined file photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Kyodo)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- China on Monday rejected U.S. threats to sanction it for its plan to legislate in Hong Kong a national security law that critics say could jeopardize the territory's financial center status.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in response to White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien's message that China firmly opposes U.S. politicians' criticisms of the Chinese parliament's agenda relating to Hong Kong.

"There is not a country that would allow activities endangering its national security on its territory," Zhao said at a news briefing.

He said the United States has dozens of laws in place to protect its own national security but is trying to interfere with or poke holes in China's national security net.

"The double standard exposes the sinister intentions of those in the U.S.," he said.

He said the proposed law, under which a central agency would be set up in Hong Kong to enforce it, would target only those aiming to separate the territory from China, subvert state power, or carry out terrorist activities, as well as foreign forces interfering with domestic affairs.

Zhao argued that the law would ultimately facilitate the maintenance of social order and improve the business environment in Hong Kong.

O'Brien said imposing the law would be a "big mistake" for China as the free and capitalistic way of life guaranteed to the people of Hong Kong would falter and Hong Kong would cease to be the Asian financial center it is now.

"The Communist Party of China promised Great Britain back in 1984 with the Sino-British (Joint) Declaration that Hong Kong will have a degree of autonomy and maintain their way of life through 2047," O'Brien told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"With that national security law, (China is) going to basically take over Hong Kong," he said, adding that if that happens. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "would likely be unable to certify (to the U.S. Congress) that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy."

"And if that happens, there will be sanctions that will be imposed on Hong Kong and China," he added.

Pompeo on Friday condemned the proposal of the National People's Congress for the law as sounding "a death knell" for Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 directs the U.S. State Department to conduct an annual review to certify whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous to justify special treatment for bilateral agreements and programs.

A 1992 U.S. law gives Hong Kong a special status separate from the rest of mainland China with regard to tariffs and visa restrictions.

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