United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke out against China's threat to restrict visas for Americans before Beijing increases its control over Hong Kong after a law was reportedly passed security that, according to critics, undermines the judicial independence of the semi-autonomous territory.
FOX BUSINESS: UNITED STATES COMPLETES HONG KONG SPECIAL TREATMENT
Beijing passed the national security law which, according to the Hong Kong media, will allow Beijing to crack down on any activity that the authorities consider subversive for secessionist purposes.
"If China wants to regain the trust of Hong Kongers and the international community, it must fulfill the promises it made to the people of Hong Kong and to the United Kingdom in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration registered at the UN," the statement read. from Pompeo.
The administration warned for weeks that if the law passed, it would take steps to end America's special trade and trade preferences that Hong Kong had enjoyed since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Tam Yiu-Chung, Hong Kong's sole representative to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, confirmed to journalists on Tuesday that the law had been passed. He said the penalties would not include the death penalty, but did not elaborate on whether the law could be applied retroactively.
"We hope that the law will serve as a deterrent to prevent people from creating problems," Tam said in the interview. "Don't let Hong Kong be used as a tool to divide the country."
A crowd of several hundred opponents of the bill gathered for what was planned as a "silent protest" in the Kowloon district as armed riot police watched, Reuters reported.
Protesters ignored police warnings to disperse and began chanting slogans, police said on Facebook. The pepper spray was used to divide the crowd after some accused protesters lined up the police lines on a Mong Kok street, according to police.
Police said 53 protesters were arrested and charged with illegal gathering.
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"We can no longer distinguish between exporting controlled goods to Hong Kong or mainland China," Pompeo said previously. "We cannot risk these items falling into the hands of the People's Liberation Army, whose main objective is to defend the dictatorship of the (ruling Communist Party) by any means necessary."
Stephen Sorace of Fox News and Associated Press contributed to this report.