Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party drafts proposal to cancel visit by China's President Xi Jinping

The Japanese government's criticism of China over Hong Kong's national security law has been relatively muted. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Lawmakers in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have drafted a resolution calling for the cancellation of a state visit by President Xi Jinping following China's clampdown on Hong Kong.

If the proposal is approved at party meetings next week, it could be submitted to Mr Abe's office as soon as Tuesday (July 7), according to lawmaker Yasuhide Nakayama, who heads an LDP foreign policy panel.

Party pressure for an official cancellation of the visit, which was postponed from early April as both countries battled the coronavirus, comes amid growing disquiet over China's behaviour among US allies around the world.

There are fears the sweeping security law that came into effect this week in Hong Kong would undermine the city's autonomy from the mainland and have a chilling impact on free speech.

Police on Wednesday made their first arrests under the new law amid protests marking the July 1 anniversary of the city's handover from British rule.

There's been criticism from foreign governments, with the US Senate approving a sanctions Bill aimed at banks that do business with Chinese officials involved in clamping down on Hong Kong's protesters, and the UK offering a home to millions of Hong Kong residents.

"The LDP is looking at the situation in Hong Kong with great concern," said Mr Nakayama. "The fact that about 400 people were arrested the first day the law came into effect is not something we can turn a blind eye to as fellow Asians, democrats and lovers of freedom."

Hong Kong police arrested 370 people at protests on Wednesday, the day after the law came into effect. Of them, 10 were detained under provisions of the national security law.

The Japanese government's criticism of China, its biggest trading partner, has been relatively muted.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi issued a statement of regret over the legislation on Tuesday, in which he also urged China to respect the rights of Japanese people and companies in Hong Kong.

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