The city parliament recently discovered that China is systematically destroying democratic institutions in Hong Kong. The British government speaks of a “clear boycott” in the joint declaration.
Britain accused China of “another clear” violation of the Sino-British Joint Statement on Hong Kong. “Beijing’s decision to introduce fundamental changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system” means “a clear violation of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said on Saturday. London now views Beijing as a contracting party that no longer fulfills its obligations.
The Chinese People’s Congress Thursday launched a change to the election law in the Special Administrative Region to ensure that Hong Kong can only be administered by “patriots”. From the point of view of critics, this would further undermine the autonomy of the Chinese Special Administrative Region. Beijing wants to control candidate selection with this step. The Chinese leadership wants to have a veto to disqualify some candidates.
Rap: “Respect basic rights in Hong Kong”
Raab said on Saturday that Beijing’s decision was “part of a pattern” designed to “harass and suppress” critics of Chinese policy. The electoral reform is the third breach of the Sino-British declaration in less than nine months. “The UK will continue to defend the people in Hong Kong,” Raab said. “China should act in accordance with its legal obligations and respect fundamental rights in Hong Kong.”
Relations between the United Kingdom and China have deteriorated due to Beijing’s crackdown on government critics in Hong Kong. When it was handed over to China in 1997, the former British Crown Colony was granted special rights for 50 years, including freedom of speech and assembly. The special administrative region status was enshrined in the 1984 Anglo-Chinese Joint Declaration signed.
The Chinese leadership had already increased pressure on government opponents and democracy activists in Hong Kong with the introduction of the so-called Special Administrative Region Security Act last year. The law permits authorities to suppress any activity they believe threatens China’s national security. The law represents the most serious violation of Hong Kong’s state of autonomy to date.