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18th Jan 2021

EU prepares response to China over Hong Kong

  • EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said that one of the measures could be export-bans on sensitive technologies used by law enforcement to suppress the anti-government protests in Hong Kong (Photo: European Union)

The European Union is preparing a "coordinated" package of EU-wide and national measures in response to China's new security law on Hong Kong, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday (13 July).

After a year of anti-government protests, Beijing imposed the new national security law on the former British colony on June 30.

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The Chinese legislation introduces new crimes with harsh penalties and allows mainland authorities to legally operate in Hong Kong - undermining Hong Kong's autonomy under the "one country, two systems" governing principle.

"We have agreed to develop a coordinated European Union response to show support for Hong Kong's autonomy and civil society," Borrell said after the meeting with EU foreign ministers on Monday.

"Some member states may already announce national measures as part of this package in the coming days," he added.

Describing Beijing's new security law as "draconian", Borrell said that one of the measures could include export bans on sensitive technologies used by law enforcement - which refers to any equipment or software that could have been used for suppressing the protests in Hong Kong.

Borrell also said EU governments could also review their extradition agreements with Hong Kong authorities, revise their travel advice, increase scholarships opportunities for Hong Kong students and widen visas to Hongkongers.

Finland supported the idea of suspending extradition treaties with Hong Kong, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the rotating EU Council presidency, welcomed that "EU member states are trying to find a common policy toward China and a common answer".

"It is an alarming development about something that has always applied, which is 'one country, two systems' and that is very much being questioned," Merkel said during a meeting with Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday.

But she also said this is no reason not to remain in dialogue with China.

"It is a difficult point, no question," she added.

German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier also said on Sunday that the new security law on Hong Kong will harm China's relations with the West.

"It does not happen too often that Germany, plus the entire European Union, plus all G7 industrialised countries, express their deep concern over the developments," he told German public broadcaster ZDF.

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