Asia-Pacific

Scott Morrison rules out sanctioning China over controversial Hong Kong security law

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia will not impose sanctions on China in retaliation to new Hong Kong security laws Source: AAP

Australia, the UK, US, and Canada say new Chinese legislation threatens to "curtail the Hong Kong people's liberties" but Scott Morrison has ruled out imposing sanctions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ruled out imposing sanctions on Chinese officials over new laws aimed at protesters in Hong Kong.

Australia has joined the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada in scolding China for the security crackdown.

They fear the laws will threaten freedom and breach a 1984 Chinese-British agreement on the autonomy of the former colony.

Delegates applaud as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the closing session of Chinas National Peoples Congress (NPC) in Beijing on Thursday.
Delegates applaud as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the closing session of Chinas National Peoples Congress (NPC) in Beijing on Thursday.
AP

The prime minister says the laws are a clear departure from Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" governance.

More than 100,000 Australians live in Hong Kong. Consular officials are providing support to those who need it.

But Australia will not apply sanctions against Chinese officials in response to the new laws.

"That's not something under consideration," Mr Morrison said on Friday.

"We have expressed our view and expressed it, I think, in a very diplomatic and courteous way.

"What we have communicated directly through our diplomatic engagements is what we have said publicly. I think it is an observation which is very fair and very reasonable. The issues we have highlighted outline our concerns."

China's parliament is pursuing national security legislation for Hong Kong that democracy activists in the city and some other countries fear could erode its freedoms and jeopardise its role as a global financial hub.

China Approves Plan to Rein In Hong Kong, Defying Worldwide Outcry
Protesters have clashed with police after Chinese parliament approved controversial Hong Kong security laws
New York Times

The UK, US, Australia and Canada said the new legislation would "curtail the Hong Kong people's liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong's autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous".

"China's decision to impose the new national security law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations," they said.

"We are also extremely concerned that this action will exacerbate the existing deep divisions in Hong Kong society."

The Chinese government says the legislation will tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference.

But the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch