Beijing should end crackdown on Hong Kong lawmakers: ‘Five Eyes’ group
WASHINGTON (US) – Chinese imposition of new regulations to disqualify elected lawmakers in Hong Kong is part of a campaign to gag critics, said the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group on Wednesday, adding that Beijing should reverse its course.
“We urge the Chinese central authorities to re-consider their actions against Hong Kong’s elected legislature and immediately reinstate the Legislative Council members,” said foreign ministers from Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States in a joint statement.
Four Hong Kong opposition members were expelled from the legislature last week after Beijing handed over city authorities new power to stifle dissent. This action sparked massive resignations by pro-democracy opposition lawmakers.
It is also caused panic in the West about the state of autonomy in the city, which was promised under a “one country, two systems” formula when Britain handed over the colony back to China in 1997.
“China’s action is a clear breach of its international obligations under the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration,” said the five nations.
Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the financial hub said any attempt by foreign powers to pressure Beijing to grant concessions would fail.
“China’s determination to defend its national sovereignty, security and development interests is unwavering,” it said in a statement.
According to Britain, China has flouted the joint declaration thrice, including with the national security legislation for the city.
Following the crackdown, the US has imposed sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and other Chinese officials and warned of further action.
Hong Kong police said three former lawmakers were arrested on Wednesday over the incidents in May and June in which a liquid with an offensive smell was thrown in the legislature. Police said the act was intended at causing harm.