Hong Kong: Statement by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell on the changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system

(Source: EEAS)

The changes to the electoral system adopted by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) in March 2021 and passed by Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on 27 May 2021 are another breach of the “One Country Two Systems” principle. These changes run counter to the commitments to greater democratic representation enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law.

This is the latest in a series of decisions adopted by the NPC in relation to Hong Kong since June 2020 that call into question the fundamental freedoms, democratic principles and the political pluralism that are central to Hong Kong’s identity and prosperity. They undermine the “One Country Two Systems” principle, contradict China’s international commitments under the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984, for example by eroding rights and freedoms that were supposed to remain protected until at least 2047, are not in conformity with the Basic Law, and have a negative impact on the EU’s legitimate expectations and interests. The arrests of pro-democracy figures also continue to be a matter of grave concern. The National Security Law is being used to stifle political pluralism in Hong Kong, and the exercise of human rights and political freedoms that are protected under Hong Kong law and international law.

The EU calls on China to act in accordance with its international commitments and its legal obligations and to respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms. The targeting of those who defend rights and freedoms and democratic values should end and independence of the judiciary should be upheld. The EU expects the Chinese and the Hong Kong authorities to restore confidence in Hong Kong’s democratic process. The EU calls on all parties to respect the independence of the judiciary in Hong Kong.

The EU will continue implementing the initial response package agreed in July 2020. It will intensify its response to the situation in Hong Kong, notably through increasing support to its civil society and media, promoting freedom of expression, facilitating mobility of Hong Kong citizens, as well as ensuring observation of the trials of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. A visit of high-level EU officials will be considered. The EU will step up coordination and consultation with international partners, including in multilateral fora. The EU is committed to respond appropriately to the extraterritorial application of the National Security Law against any EU citizen or business.

The EU will continue to pay increased attention to the situation in Hong Kong as part of the overall relations between the European Union and China.

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