China has lambasted as “improper” the remarks made by the United Nations Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet regarding Beijing’s national security law proposed for Hong Kong, saying such comments are “gross” interference in China’s internal affairs.
On Friday, Bachelet issued a statement claiming that any new national security legislation imposed on China’s global financial hub “must fully comply with China’s human rights obligations” and international agreements safeguarding civil and political freedoms.
Hours later, China’s mission to the UN in Geneva in a statement condemned Bachelet’s comments, saying they “grossly interfere in China’s sovereignty and internal affairs and violate the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, to which China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition.”
It further said that “solemn representations” were made to Bachelet and her office, stressing that legislation on national security “falls within the sovereignty of a State.”
In June last year, unprecedented anti-government protests began in Hong Kong over a proposed extradition bill. It was shelved under pressure from rallies later on, but the turbulent demonstrations continued the next several months and became more violent, endangering the lives and property of citizens.
The demonstrators have been demanding Hong Kong’s full independence from China since then. Beijing says the US and Britain have been fanning the flames of the unrest in the semi-autonomous hub by supporting the separatist protesters.
Last month, Hong Kong’s legislature debated and passed a Beijing-proposed bill, criminalizing sedition, secession and subversion against the mainland.
The law drew harsh criticism from some Western governments, particularly the US and the UK, which claim that the law threatens the semi-autonomous stance of the city. Beijing, however, says the law is aimed at improving the legal system and protecting the region’s prosperity and stability.
The new legislation has sparked fresh protests in Hong Kong, which returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.