PLA commander says new law will help to crack down on separatist and foreign forces in ‘two sessions’ interview

Military has ‘determination, confidence and ability’ to safeguard national security interests and Hong Kong prosperity

has said the Chinese military will “resolutely” safeguard China’s national security and sovereignty, in its first statement since Beijing announced plans to impose a sweeping

in Hong Kong.

Chen Daoxiang, commander of the PLA’s Hong Kong garrison, said it would “act with firm resolve to implement the central government’s decision and plans” as well as continuing to implement the “one country, two systems” policy in the city.

Speaking on the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary meetings, also known as the

, Chen told state broadcaster CCTV that the new law would help to crack down on separatist and foreign forces aiming to undermine China’s national unity.

“[The garrison] will implement, according to law, various tasks delegated by the party and the people, and has the determination, confidence and ability to safeguard national security and development interest as well as Hong Kong’s continuing prosperity,” he said.

The proposal to impose a national security law in Hong Kong – which will give Beijing more direct control over the city – was introduced by China’s legislature on Friday. Beijing has blamed foreign forces for inciting last year’s months-long protests in Hong Kong, sparked by opposition to a separate and now-withdrawn extradition bill, and described the unrest as a grave threat to national security.

Separately, CCTV reported that a group of top military officials said in a session on Tuesday that there was a “great urgency” for Beijing to impose the law in a bid to address the “new risks and challenges” in governing the city.

The officials, who included Central Military Commission vice-chairmen Xu Qiliang and Zhang Youxia, said the plan was a “very timely, necessary and important” step to prevent and punish efforts to undermine China’s national sovereignty and security.

They reiterated the PLA’s commitment to opposing intervention from foreign forces in Hong Kong as well as maintaining China’s national unity and territorial integrity.

“Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs. We resolutely oppose efforts by any foreign country, organisation and individual in interfering with Hong Kong affairs, and will resolutely guard against and contain any attempts by external forces in … engaging any separatist, subversion and infiltration activities,” they said, according to CCTV.

The planned national security law has drawn strong condemnation from the US government, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling it a “death knell” for the territory’s relative autonomy. White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said on Sunday that the US government would likely impose sanctions on China if Beijing went ahead with the plan.

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