Pro-democracy legislators in Hong Kong sounded the alarm Friday over a new national security law introduced by Beijing that outlaws "foreign interference" and cracks down on the territory's autonomy, with one legislator grimly warning that "this is the end of Hong Kong."
"I just want to say to the international community that this is the end of Hong Kong. This is the end of one country, two systems," said lawyer and lawmaker Dennis Kwok. "Make no mistake about it."
"Beijing, the Central People's government, has completely breached its promise to the Hong Kong people," he continued. "I foresee that the international status of Hong Kong as a city, international city, will be gone very soon."
'This Is The End Of Hong Kong,' Warns Legislator, As China Proposes New Security Law | NBC News youtu.be
Another pro-democracy lawmaker, Tanya Chan, echoed that sentiment in a speech at the start of China's annual National People's Congress in Beijing, where the bill was to be discussed.
"I recall the time when I was young, and I believed in 'one country, two systems,' and I believed we were going to showcase to the world that Hong Kong people can rule Hong Kong," she said, according to NBC News. "But now, I'm not yet 50 years old and suddenly all is gone."
Wu Chi-wai, chairman of Hong Kong's Democratic party, told the news outlet: "The rule of law in Hong Kong is over, because of the implementation of the national security ordinance."
Last year, a firestorm of massive protests erupted in the city as Hong Kong residents demonstrated their displeasure over pro-China policies backed by the city's leadership, namely Chief Executive Carrie Lam. One of which was a bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be extradited to mainland China to stand trial.
After months of protests, Lam eventually agreed to scrap the bill but refused to implement other pro-democracy reforms. Lam has since used the coronavirus quarantine to arrest advocates of democracy in the city.
Now Lam is arguing in lockstep with Beijing's talking points, saying that the new law is necessary for security and is in the interest of all Hong Kong residents.
Lam told reporters Friday that the protests are "seriously jeopardizing public safety" and scaring off investors.
"There is now another way of ensuring that Hong Kong will have the necessary legislation and the safeguards in place for national security," she said. "This is really the time for us not to waste any more time and to get on with these important legislative safeguards."