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China approves national security law for Hong Kong against threats of U.S. retaliation

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China approved a sweeping new national security law for Hong Kong Tuesday aimed at stifling dissent in a city where millions protested the past year demanding greater autonomy from Beijing.

The law drastically changes the complexion of Hong Kong society, which has long enjoyed special freedoms absent from the mainland that for decades have contributed to the city’s status as a global financial hub.

The unanimous passage of the law by China’s top legislature plunges Beijing’s relationship with other major powers into deeper uncertainty. In just the past few months, China has taken a more confrontational stance with the United States, Taiwan, India and Australia.

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In anticipation of the law’s passage, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced Monday the the U.S. would restrict exports of defense equipment to Hong Kong: “The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to eviscerate Hong Kong’s freedoms has forced the Trump Administration to re-evaluate its policies toward the territory,” Pompeo said in a statement.

Hong Kongers fear the law will erode many of the freedoms they’ve been accustomed to for generations, including the right to assembly, speech and an independent media. The move, though expected, was still startling and comes at a time when the Communist Party is determined to bring the semiautonomous city more tightly into Beijing’s orbit.

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