The current repression of democracy in Hong Kong has become an issue of international outrage. Now several countries have expressed “serious concern” about the advance of the new security law imposed on the territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which undermines its autonomy.
A joint statement issued on Aug. 9 by the secretaries of state and foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States questioned the delay in the Hong Kong elections, originally scheduled for September and now postponed for a year, according to Express UK.
Conditions in the region under the new security law imposed from the mainland on the semi-autonomous region generate the latent fear that citizens may lose their individual freedoms. Several pro-democracy candidates have been banned from running in the elections.
According to Reuters, 12 candidates ended up being disqualified by the Hong Kong government to run on the grounds of collusion with foreign forces and for being in opposition to the new national security laws imposed by the Chinese regime.
For its part, the Hong Kong government did not accept that the restrictions imposed on opposition candidates represented any kind of political censorship or violation of freedom of expression.
Well-known pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, who is also on the list of disqualified candidates, said in a tweet, “Clearly, Beijing shows total disregard for the will of the Hong Kong people, tramples on the city’s last pillar of vanishing autonomy and tries to keep Hong Kong’s legislature under its firm control.
The movements in the Special Administrative Region “undermined the democratic process,” according to the statement, which includes British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as well as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In the statement, the officials said,
We, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States Secretary of State, are gravely concerned by the Hong Kong government’s unjust disqualification of candidates and disproportionate postponement of Legislative Council elections. We express deep concern at Beijing’s imposition of the new National Security Law, which is eroding the Hong Kong people’s fundamental rights and liberties. We support the legitimate expectations of the people of Hong Kong to elect Legislative Council representatives via genuinely free, fair, and credible elections. We urge the Hong Kong government to hold the elections as soon as possible.
The statement also called on the CCP to respect the joint Sino-British declaration that was signed after Hong Kong became a British colony in 1997, promising to maintain freedoms under the “one country, two systems” principle, which was also endorsed by the UN.
Under the national security law, the Hong Kong government on Monday arrested media mogul Jimmy Lai, who has been a key figure in pro-democracy protests in the territory. Lai’s arrest was allegedly carried out for his presumed “colluding with foreign powers.”
According to Steven Butler, coordinator of the Asia program of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Lai’s arrest, “bears out the worst fears that Hong Kong’s National Security Law would be used to suppress critical pro-democracy opinion and restrict press freedom.”