World

China to counter any US actions on HK bill

By AAP Newswire

China says it will take any necessary countermeasures if the United States insists on interfering in Beijing's internal affairs and taking action in response to the Hong Kong security bill ratified by its parliament in Beijing.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian made the remarks on Friday at a daily briefing. He said Beijing had also lodged representations to the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia in response to those countries' joint statement criticising Beijing for the security bill.

Meanwhile, China's public security ministry has pledged to "direct and support" Hong Kong police, highlighting Beijing's intention to take a more hands-on law-enforcement role in the city.

China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) - the national police force - would use "all efforts to direct and support the Hong Kong police to stop violence and restore order", it said in a statement released late on Thursday.

Hong Kong's police force is independent from China and the MPS has no enforcement powers in the former British colony.

"This is the clearest indication yet that the Public Security Ministry will have the authority to supervise Hong Kong police in matters of national security," said Alfred Wu, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

China says the national security law will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong, with details expected to be drawn up in coming weeks.

The new legislation will enable Beijing to establish intelligence agencies in Hong Kong, including a domestic intelligence agency potentially involving the MPS and the Ministry of State Security, China's main intelligence agency.

The legislation has sparked fresh protests in Hong Kong, with democracy activists, as well as trade bodies, diplomats and lawyers, fearing it could erode the city's freedoms and jeopardise its role as a global financial hub.

The MPS statement called for "striking a severe blow against infiltration, subversion and sabotage by hostile forces at home and abroad" and for "conscientiously studying and implementing" the NPC's decision on Hong Kong.