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19th Sep 2020

EU: Hong Kong election delay undermines democracy

  • China's national security laws have eroded democracy in Hong Kong (Photo: Mariusz Kluzniak)

The European Union has said election delays in Hong Kong risks democratic rights and freedoms - while France has suspended an extradition treaty with the global financial hub.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday (3 August) said a decision to postpone the Hong Kong Legislative Council election by one year "would delay its democratic mandate."

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He also took umbrage with moves to disqualify pro-democracy candidates, which he said "weakens Hong Kong's international reputation as a free and open society."

Similar critical comments on China's controversial national security laws were made by EU states in late July.

The Chinese law was introduced in late June. It criminalises a number of acts seen as a way to suppress dissent and protests.

For example, it broadly defines terrorism to include damaging public property like transport.

Member states at the time said the Chinese legislation erodes the rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, which were supposed to remain intact at least until 2047.

They also proposed limiting exports of sensitive equipment and technologies in Hong Kong given the Chinese led suppression among pro-democracy demonstrators.

Borrell's latest comments follow China's on-going crackdown on Hong Kong and tit-for-tat measures between Beijing and mostly western powers.

France on Monday said it would not ratify a 2017 extradition treaty with Hong Kong because of China's national security law.

A statement by the French foreign ministry said the national security law for Hong Kong challenged the "one country, two systems" principle.

It said the law posed problems when it comes fundamental freedoms and Hong Kong autonomy.

Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the UK have also suspended the treaty with Hong Kong.

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