Germany, EU Scold China, ‘Expect’ Hong Kong’s Rights to Be Upheld
China’s new draft security legislation for Hong Kong has drawn criticism from all over the West.
Germany and the European Union “expect” China to uphold the rights of Hong Kong and its citizens under the “one country, two systems” principle, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has declared.
His statement came after on Thursday China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, adopted a resolution for the drafting of a new security law for the autonomous province of Hong Kong.
The resolution gave the green light for the drafting of legislation to punish “secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and acts that endanger national security in Hong Kong.”
The resolution, which critics say could severely threaten the special status of the autonomous region of Hong Kong, was favored by a total of 2,878 of China’s Communist Party delegates, while 1 voted against it and 6 abstained.
Hong Kong has been in turmoil for more than a year now after mass street protests broke out in 2019 over an extraditon law. The approval of the security legislation resolution by the Chinese parliament was met with renewed street protests in Hong Kong and clashs with security forces.
The EU’s High Representative for foreign and security policy Josep Borrell expressed his concern about “the steps taken by China.”
He said the EU believed the draft security legislation on Hong Kong failed to comply with China’s international commitments with respect to the special administrative district which was returned by Britain to the People’s Republic of China in 1997.
Germany and the EU “expect” the “one country, two systems” principle, “freedom of expression and assembly” and democratic debate in Hong Kong to “continue to be respected in the future,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned in his statement, as cited by DW.
“We are agreed in the EU: Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy must not be hollowed out … Citizens of Hong Kong enjoy freedoms and rights that are granted to them by the Basic Law and the ‘one country, two systems’ principle. We expect these legal principles to be upheld,” Maas declared.
“The ‘one country, two systems’ principle and the rule of law are ultimately the basis for Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity. Not even the security law can be permitted to call these fundamental values into question. Freedom of opinion and of assembly, and also the democratic debate in Hong Kong, must also be respected in future,” Germany’s top diplomat said.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, the US, the UK, Canada and Australia also said China’s new security legislation on Hong Kong was in direct violation of its international commitments.
“[The proposed security law] would curtail the Hong Kong people’s liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous,” they declared.
“The world’s focus on a global pandemic requires enhanced trust in governments and international cooperation. Beijing’s unprecedented move risks having the opposite effect,” the US-UK-Canada-Australia statement said.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also announced that if China would formally adopt the Hong Kong security legislation, the UK was going to change its rules for “British National Overseas” (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong.
Britain granted Hong Kongers the special BNO status before it transferred its former colony back to China in 1997.
Presently, holders of BNO passports are allowed to enter the UK without a visa and remain for up to six months.
Raab said that could that could be changed 12 months, and “that would itself provide a pathway to future citizenship.”
“If China continues down this path and implements this national security legislation we will change that status, and we will remove that six month limit,” Raab said.
(Banner image: German Foreign Ministry on Twitter)