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Japan says passage of China’s security law for Hong Kong ‘regrettable’

Malaysia's Penang has become a popular choice for Hong Kongers. Photo by the FMT. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

TOKYO, Jun 30, 2020, Kyodo. Japan said Tuesday that China’s reported enactment of a national security law for Hong Kong is “regrettable” as it will hurt international confidence in the “one country, two systems” principle governing Beijing’s approach to the former British colony, Kyodo News reported.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said it is important for Hong Kong to maintain its free and open system so that it can prosper in a “democratic and stable way.”

“It would be regrettable if the national security legislation has been enacted (as reported by the media) despite strong concerns by the international community and the people of Hong Kong,” Suga said at a press conference.

“The future of ‘one country, two systems’ is important to our country as we have close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges with Hong Kong,” the top government spokesman said.

China on Tuesday enacted a national security law to crack down on what Beijing views as subversive activity in Hong Kong, media in the territory reported, a move that could jeopardize human rights and freedom in the territory.

Since Beijing’s plan to impose the security law on Hong Kong emerged in May, Japan has used various channels to convey its stance on Hong Kong to China. Tokyo also expressed its “serious concern,” gradually stepping up its rhetoric.

The Group of Seven industrialized nations issued a joint statement in mid-June expressing “grave concern” and urged China to reconsider the move.

“The enactment of the national security law will undermine international confidence in the ‘one country, two systems’ principle so we will coordinate with countries concerned and deal with the issue appropriately,” Suga said.

Under China’s “one country, two systems” policy, Hong Kong was promised it would enjoy the rights and freedoms of a semiautonomous region for 50 years following the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.

China’s push for the new law is one factor behind growing opposition among Japanese conservatives to Tokyo’s plan to receive Chinese President Xi Jinping as a state guest. The visit, which would have marked a thaw in bilateral relations, was postponed from this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“At least for now, we are not at the stage of setting a specific date,” Suga said on the Chinese leader’s Japan visit, adding that Tokyo and Beijing need to resolve outstanding issues through talks between their leaders.

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