Pompeo slams China for interfering with American journalists in Hong Kong

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Kwok was singled out for criticism by Beijing and was recently removed from his chairmanship of a key legislative council committee.

Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have returned to the highest of the political agenda with a bunch of demonstrators showing in court as dissident lawmakers had been bodily thrown out of a legislative assembly for the second time in 10 days.

The committee has been without a leader since October, meaning no bills have made it to the legislature for a vote, including one that criminalizes ridiculing or altering the national anthem.

The city is still reeling from mass protests previous year against a now-scrapped extradition bill that would have allowed the Chinese regime to transfer people in Hong Kong for trial in courts controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

"I'm speechless", said Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker, of the proposed national security legislation.

It remains unclear whether the premier will issue the usual economic growth target for the world's second-largest economy.

Signed into law in November 2019, the act requires the State Department to audit Hong Kong's level of "autonomy" annually.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has launched a fresh attack on China, claiming that he has reasons to believe that they are interfering in the work of US journalists in Hong Kong.

OUTRAGE HAS broken out in Hong Kong after Starry Lee was re-elected as chair of the House Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo).

The bill, criticized by free speech and human rights advocates around the world, is seen by Beijing as an important step toward preventing pro-democracy protests from resuming with the size and enthusiasm they enjoyed before the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Additional reporting from journalist Isaac Yee in Hong Kong.

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Protesters are calling for a city-wide demonstration on that day.

Earlier on Thursday, Beijing said a national security bill would be discussed in China's annual parliamentary session on Friday, fueling concerns that street protests will flare up again in the semi-autonomous city.

A riot police officer gestures as anti-government demonstrators take part in a protest in Sheung Shui shopping mall, in Hong Kong, China, on December 28, 2019.

Hong Kong police have also charged 15 pro-democracy activists over their role in last year's protests.

"Will NGOs and charities like Amnesty International and Hong Kong Watch become illegal?" he asked.

He said this was to account for any actions Beijing might contemplate ahead of China's National People's Congress this Friday.

The "Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act" approved by Trump past year requires the State Department to certify at least annually that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to justify the favorable US trading terms that have helped it maintain its position as a world financial center. "Carrie Lam will have to live with her conscience", he said.

"China saying it wants to "improve" Hong Kong by stripping all its people's rights [and] liberties", he wrote in a tweet.

Members of the Consultative Conference will "tell the world about how China, as a responsible major country, has taken firm action and contributed to worldwide cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic", Wang Yang, the chairman of the body, said in a report to the opening session.

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