European leaders lined up on Tuesday to condemn China’s new security laws in Hong Kong. European Council president Charles Michel, said “we deplore the decision,” while Ursula von Der Leyen, Commission president, said the EU was discussing possible relation with other international partners.

The legislation, rubber-stamped in Beijing on Tuesday, criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and the rather wide-ranging ‘collusion with foreign forces.’

The UK, the former colonial power, said the Chinese move was “a grave step.” Britain has infuriated the Chinese by offering visas and paths to UK citizenship to millions of British National Overseas passport holders.

Lord Patten, who served as the last British governor of Hong Kong, said: “This decision, which rides roughshod over Hong Kong’s elected legislature, marks the end of ‘one country, two systems’. It is a flagrant breach of the Sino-British joint declaration – a treaty lodged at the United Nations – and Hong Kong’s mini constitution, the Basic Law.

“It will throttle the city’s rule of law, presenting a major confrontation between what passes for law in China and the common law system in Hong Kong, which has allowed the city to function as one of most important financial hubs in Asia. The separation of powers is in danger of being shattered and the courts politicised by the provision that the chief executive will herself choose the judges for national security cases.”

Other countries are increasingly wary of China’s wider intentions, including not only its historic adversary, Japan, but Australia, which has been upgrading cyber-security with the Chinese threat in mind. Meanwhile, India, facing open aggression from Chinese forces on the shared border, on Monday banned 50 Chinese apps, including TikTok and WeChat.

PHOTO: Lord Patten