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2020-07-01 HKT 01:20
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for sanctions and other steps against China while Britain led a call by Western countries to preserve the right to assembly and free press in the SAR after Beijing on Tuesday passed its sweeping national security law for Hong Kong.
Pelosi said the "brutal" law would "frighten, intimidate and suppress" those peacefully seeking freedom.
"We must consider all tools available, including visa limitations and economic penalties," the Democratic leader of the US House of Representatives said.
Britain and some two dozen Western countries meanwhile urged China to reconsider its law, saying Beijing must preserve the right to assembly and free press in the former British colony.
"We wish to raise our deep concerns at the imposition of national security legislation on Hong Kong which undermines 'One Country, Two Systems', and has clear implications for human rights," Julian Braithwaite, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, told the UN Human Rights Council.
"We urge the Chinese and Hong Kong governments to reconsider the imposition of this legislation and to engage Hong Kong's people, institutions and judiciary to prevent further erosion of long-standing rights and freedoms," he said.
Braithwaite spoke on behalf of 27 countries, many of them European Union members, as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Earlier, Chief Executive Carrie Lam addressed the Geneva forum by video message and said that China's national security legislation would fill a "gaping hole" and would not undermine Hong Kong's autonomy.
Braithwaite also urged Chinese authorities to allow UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet "meaningful and early access" to its Xinjiang region amid reports of arbitrary detention and widespread surveillance of the mostly-Muslim Uighur minority. (Reuters)