The Five Ice Intelligence Sharing Group says China has appeared as part of a campaign to silence critics by imposing new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong and has called on Beijing to go the other way.
The foreign ministers of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States said in a joint statement, “We urge the Chinese central government to reconsider its actions against Hong Kong’s elected legislature and to immediately bring back members of the legislature.”
Hong Kong last week expelled four opposition members from its legislature after giving Beijing city authorities new powers to quell dissent. The move has sparked widespread resignations by pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong.
This raised further concerns about the extent of Hong Kong’s autonomy, when it was promised under the “one country, two systems” formula, when Britain ended its ended colonial rule and returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.
The five countries said “China’s move on the basis of legal obligation is a clear violation of its international obligations,” under the UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration, “five countries said.
Hong Kong’s Chinese Foreign Ministry has said any attempt by foreign states to threaten or pressure Beijing to make concessions “could fail”.
“China’s commitment to national sovereignty, security and development interests is unwavering,” the statement said.
Britain now considers that China has broken the joint declaration three times this year, including the introduction of a national security law for Hong Kong.
Washington has already imposed sanctions on Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and other Chinese officials over the crackdown and warned of further action.
Police in Hong Kong say they arrested three former lawyers on Wednesday morning in connection with the May and June incidents that threw foul-smelling liquid into the city legislature, a law police said was intended to cause harm.
China denies resisting the rights and freedoms of the global financial center, but authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have moved quickly to curb dissent since the start of anti-government protests in June last year and plunged the city into crisis.