China slams Switzerland for ‘interfering in internal affairs’

Police officers detain a protester in Hong Kong on Wednesday after he was pepper-sprayed during a rally against a new national security law Keystone

China has attacked Switzerland and 26 other countries for criticising a sweeping new national security law imposed on Hong Kong. Beijing denounced “political motivations” and “unjustified accusations”.

This content was published on July 1, 2020

The controversial law, passed in Beijing on Tuesday, turned into a diplomatic confrontation at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. In a statement before the UN body, the British ambassador, on behalf of his country and 26 others including Switzerland, called on the Chinese and Hong Kong governments to “reconsider the imposition of this legislation”.

The new national security law for Hong Kong will punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the Swiss foreign ministry said it was seriously concerned:

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Like dozens of independent UN experts before them, including Nils Melzer, the Swiss UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the countries denounced the effects of the law on human rights.

However, a group of 53 countries supported Beijing, welcoming the entry into force of the law and believing that this issue should not be discussed at the Human Rights Council.

'Doomed to fail'

China’s response to the opposing states, especially European countries, was prompt. The Chinese mission to the UN in Geneva accused them on Tuesday night of interfering in its internal affairs and violating the UN Charter.

Beijing said these acts were “doomed to fail”. It denounced the “political motivations” and “unjustified accusations” of Switzerland and the co-signatories of the British declaration.

Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms or investor interests.

Hong Kong law

China’s parliament passed the detailed legislation on Tuesday, giving Beijing sweeping powers and setting the stage for radical changes to the global financial hub’s way of life.

Beijing had kept full details shrouded in secrecy, giving Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people no time to digest the complex legislation before it entered into force at 11pm on June 30.

The timing was seen as a symbolic humiliation for Britain, coming just an hour before the 23rd anniversary of when Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, Chris Patten, a staunch critic of the law, tearfully handed back Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

The legislation pushes Beijing further along a collision course with the United States, Britain and other Western governments, which have said it erodes the high degree of autonomy the city was granted at its handover.

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