Biden says new China national security law a 'death blow,' weighs sanctions

Reuters

Posted at Jul 02 2020 03:48 AM

Democratic US presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden holds his protective face mask as he speaks about the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, US, June 30, 2020. Kevin Lamarque, Reuters

Democrat Joe Biden on Wednesday threatened new economic sanctions on China if he is elected US president, calling its new security law imposed on Hong Kong a "death blow" to the territory's freedom.

Biden, who has a lead in national opinion polls ahead of his Nov. 3 election fight against President Donald Trump, said Beijing was "acting with impunity" when it unveiled new laws for Hong Kong that would punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

"Beijing's new national security law - enacted in secret and sweeping in scope - is already dealing a death blow to the freedoms and autonomy that set Hong Kong apart from the rest of China," Biden said in a statement provided to Reuters.

The Democratic presidential nominee said he would "prohibit US companies from abetting repression and supporting the Chinese Communist Party's surveillance state" and "impose swift economic sanctions" if Beijing "tries to silence US citizens, companies, and institutions for exercising their First Amendment rights."

He also vowed to "take stronger steps to prevent imports from forced labor" in Xinjiang, the Chinese region where the United Nations estimates more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps.

China denies mistreatment of people in Xinjiang, while authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the new national security legislation is aimed at a few "troublemakers" and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investors' interests.