Friday, January 28, 2022

Five Eyes seeing red on Hong Kong elections

In a joint statement, Five Eyes foreign ministers have expressed concern over the outcome of yesterday’s Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections which saw a landslide victory handed to China’s Communist Party-loyal candidates.

“We, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, and the United States Secretary of State, noting the outcome of the Legislative Council elections in Hong Kong, express our grave concern over the erosion of democratic elements of the Special Administrative Region’s electoral system,” the statement reads.

“Actions that undermine Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy are threatening our shared wish to see Hong Kong succeed.”

The Ministers said that the overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system introduced earlier this year reduced the number of directly elected seats and established a new vetting process to severely restrict the choice of candidates on the ballot paper.

“These changes eliminated any meaningful political opposition. Meanwhile, many of the city’s opposition politicians – most notably the majority of the “NSL 47″ – remain in prison pending trial, with others in exile overseas.”

“We also remain gravely concerned at the wider chilling effect of the National Security Law and the growing restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, which are being felt across civil society. NGOs, trade unions and human rights organisations not supportive of the government’s agenda have been forced to disband or leave, while media freedoms are being curtailed at pace.”

They said that protecting space for peaceful alternative views was the most effective way to ensure the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.

“We urge the People’s Republic of China to act in accordance with its international obligations to respect protected rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong, including those guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

Pro-Beijing candidates have claimed victory in the election as the city recorded its lowest-ever voter turnout in the first LegCo election since China made controversial changes to the city’s electoral system.

The Government had even made public transport free on voting day to encourage the city’s 4.5 million registered voters to take part, however just 30% of voters participated.

In a white paper released just hours after election results were announced, China said Hong Kong had now entered a new stage of “restored order”.

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