China has been systematically destroying democratic institutions in Hong Kong, the city’s parliament has recently found out. The British government calls for a “clear break” in the joint declaration.
The UK has accused China of “another blatant” violation of the Sino-British joint statement on Hong Kong. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Saturday, “Beijing’s decision to bring radical changes to restrict participation in Beijing’s electoral system” is a clear violation of the legally binding Sino-British joint declaration. London now sees Beijing as a contracting party that is no longer fulfilling its obligations.
The People’s Congress of China on Thursday introduced changes to the electoral law in the Special Administrative Region to ensure that Hong Kong can only be run by “patriots”. From the point of view of critics, it will further reduce the autonomy of the Chinese Special Administrative Region. Beijing wants to control the selection of the candidate with this move. The Chinese leadership wants to have veto rights to exclude certain candidates.
Raab: “Respect Fundamental Rights in Hong Kong”
Raab said on Saturday that Beijing’s decision was “part of a pattern” designed to “upset and suppress” critics of Chinese politics. The electoral reform is the third violation of the Sino-British Declaration in less than nine months. Rab continued, “Britain will stand up for the people in Hong Kong.” “China should act in accordance with its legal obligations and respect fundamental rights in Hong Kong.”
Relations between the UK and China have deteriorated due to Beijing’s ban on the government’s critics in Hong Kong. When it was ceded to China in 1997, the former British Crown Colony was given exclusive rights for 50 years, including freedom of expression and assembly. The British-Chinese Joint Declaration, signed in 1984, ensured the status as a Special Administrative Region.
The Chinese leadership had already increased pressure on government opponents and democracy activists in Hong Kong, with the introduction of so-called security legislation for the Special Administrative Region last year. The law allows authorities to prohibit any activity they feel threatens China’s national security. The law represents by far the most serious encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomous status.