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'Five Eyes' alliance chides China on Hong Kong

November 19, 2020

Foreign ministers from the English-speaking intelligence alliance accuse Beijing of breaching international law with its crackdown on pro-democracy lawmakers and protesters.

Pro-government members holding balloons
Image: May James/Zuma/picture alliance

The Five Eyes intelligence sharing group warned China on Thursday to reverse its crackdown on Hong Kong opposition politicians.

Beijing expelled four pro-democracy lawmakers from the former British colony's parliament last week.

Foreign ministers from Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States urged China "to re-consider their actions against Hong Kong's elected legislature and immediately reinstate the Legislative Council members."

China granted authorities fresh powers to curb dissent in Hong Kong, which triggered mass resignations by lawmakers opposed to closer ties with Beijing.

Read more:  Opinion: Hong Kong's rule of law is at its end

Pro-democracy legislators Wu Chi-wai, Andrew Wan and Lam Cheuk-ting wave to media after handing in their resignation letters as four pan-democratic legislators were disqualified when Beijing passed a new dissent resolution in Hong Kong, China November 12, 2020.
A number of Hong Kong MPs quit over China's actionsImage: Tyrone Siu/REUTERS

Britain has repeatedly accused the Chinese government of breaking the promises it made under the terms of the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. Both countries agreed that the territory would maintain its independence and basic freedoms as part of a "one country, two systems" formula.

"China's action is a clear breach of its international obligations under the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration," the five countries said.

Is Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement defeated?

Beijing 'unwavering' on a 'national sovereignty' issue

China's ministry of foreign affairs in Hong Kong said any attempt by foreign states to threaten or pressure Beijing to make concessions is "doomed to fail."

"China's determination to defend its national sovereignty, security and development interests is unwavering," it said in a statement.

Beijing's actions in Hong Kong have received widespread criticism from international community.

Concerns were sparked by national security legislation that was introduced this year, which would have made it easier to deport Hong Kong residents to the mainland.

Washington has already imposed sanctions on Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and other Chinese officials over the crackdown, and has warned of further steps.

Police in Hong Kong said they had arrested three former lawmakers on Wednesday morning over May and June incidents in which foul-smelling liquid was thrown in the city’s legislature, an act police said was intended to cause harm.

China denies curbing rights and freedoms in the global financial hub but authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have moved swiftly to stifle dissent after anti-government protests flared in June last year and plunged the city into crisis.

jf/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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