UK Says China Noncompliant With Hong Kong Joint Declaration

The UK now considers the Chinese regime to be “in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Joint Declaration,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Saturday.

“Beijing’s decision to impose radical changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system constitutes a further clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Raab said in a statement.

On March 11, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), approved a draft decision to change Hong Kong’s electoral system, making it virtually impossible for the opposition to affect the outcome of elections.

The electoral changes will further reduce democratic representation in the former British colony and introduce a mechanism to vet politicians’ loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party and make sure that only so-called “patriots” are allowed to rule Hong Kong.

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, had called the proposed move “the biggest step so far to obliterate Hong Kong’s freedoms and aspirations for greater democracy under the rule of law.”

Chris Patten, Hong Kong's last British governor
Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor speaks at The Foreign Correspondents’ Club to promote his new book in Hong Kong, on Sept. 19, 2017. (Vincent Yu/AP Photo)

Raab said: “This is part of a pattern designed to harass and stifle all voices critical of China’s policies and is the third breach of the Joint Declaration in less than nine months.”

“The Chinese authorities’ continued action means I must now report that the UK considers Beijing to be in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Joint Declaration—a demonstration of the growing gulf between Beijing’s promises and its actions.”

Beijing had promised universal suffrage as an ultimate goal for Hong Kong in its mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

But the regime has refused to grant more democracy to the city, and has instead been tightening its authoritarian grip following the imposition of a national security law in June 2020.

On Feb. 28, the Hong Kong government charged 47 pro-democracy activists with conspiracy to commit subversion, only because they took part in an unofficial primary vote held by the pan-democracy camp in July 2020, ahead of the LegCo elections originally scheduled for September 2020.

Hongkongers waiting to vote
A woman (center L) uses her phone while waiting to vote during primary elections in Hong Kong on July 12, 2020. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images)

On Friday, foreign ministers of the G7 countries—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States, along with the foreign policy representative of the European Union, expressed their “grave concerns at the Chinese authorities’ decision fundamentally to erode democratic elements of the electoral system in Hong Kong.”

In a joint statement, the G7 foreign minister called on the Chinese regime to “act in accordance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration and its other legal obligations and respect fundamental rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, as provided for in the Basic Law.”

Separately, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, on Friday highlighted the “alarming political deterioration” in Hong Kong in its annual report to other EU institutions.

“China is consciously dismantling the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle in violation of its international commitments and the Hong Kong Basic Law. The regressive electoral changes approved yesterday in Beijing are yet another step down this path,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

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