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China says not legally bound to 50 years of Hong Kong autonomy

US and UK counter the 1984 promise is an international obligation

A pro-democracy demonstrator waves the British colonial era flag during a protest against new national security legislation in Hong Kong.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- China's plans for new national security legislation in Hong Kong have sparked a massive debate about the mainland's obligations to the former British colony, including whether Beijing is beholden to a 1984 declaration promising 50 years of autonomy to the city.

China's National People's Congress voted May 28 to draft and impose national security legislation for Hong Kong, which would ban acts of subversion, secession and terrorism. Critics believe this legislation could be used to quash dissent in the city, such as the ongoing pro-democracy protests there.

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