"Keeping Close Watch...": India's Message At UN Over Hong Kong, China

India's concerns over China's controversial new national security law for Hong Kong comes amid a simmering stand-off with Beijing over the border issue and the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers last month

Critics have said the new law in Hong Kong could be the end of democracy in the region (File)

Geneva, Switzerland:

India has urged the United Nations to ''seriously and objectively'' address its concerns over recent developments in Hong Kong, which is home to a sizeable Indian community, after China passed a sweeping national security law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) - one critics and many western governments fear will smother the global financial hub's freedoms and autonomy.

"Given the large Indian community that makes the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China its home, India has been keeping a close watch on recent developments. We have heard several statements expressing concerns about these developments," Rajiv K Chander, India's ambassador and permanent representative to the UN, said at a press briefing.

"We hope the relevant parties will take into account these views and address them properly, seriously and objectively," he added.

According to an estimate on the website of the Consulate General of India in Hong Kong, there are around 38,000 Indians living in the region, with a smaller community in nearby Macau.

The US, Britain, the EU and UN rights agecies have all voiced fears the law could be used to stifle criticism of Beijing, which wields similar laws on the authoritarian mainland to crush dissent; in mainland China, security laws are routinely used to jail critics, especially for the vague offence of "subversion", according to news agency Agence France Presse (AFP).

India's concern about the law comes amid rising tension with China over a decades-old border row and the killing of 20 Indian soldiers in eastern Ladakh last month. That face-off was the first to see military fatalities between the two sides since four Indian soldiers were killed in Arunachal Pradesh in 1975.

Two days ago, satellite images procured by NDTV also showed that Chinese forces in Ladakh's Galwan Valley, which is where the clash took place, had intruded 423 metres into Indian territory. Other images showed build-up of Chinese  forces at key points along the LAC.

On Monday the government banned 59 Chinese-origin mobile phone apps, including the hugely popular TikTok, in a move that will likely cost Chinese app developers millions of dollars.

The controversial Hong Kong law, over which fierce protests have raged across Hong Kong in recent weeks, was unanimously approved by China's parliament on Tuesday.

"It marks the end of the Hong Kong that the world knew before," Joshua Wong, a prominent democracy campaigner tweeted as his political party Demosisto announced it was disbanding.

"With sweeping powers and ill-defined law, the city will turn into a #secretpolicestate," Mr Wong warned.

Beijing and Hong Kong's government have rejected these allegations. They have said the laws will only target a minority of people, will not harm political freedoms in the city and will restore business confidence after a year of historic pro-democracy protests.

The new law criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers and people convicted of such crimes can face sentences of up to life in prison.

With input from ANI, AFP