UK, Australia, US and Canada criticise Hong Kong mass arrests

world
Former Democratic Party legislators Andrew Wan, left, Lam Cheuk-ting, second left, and Helena Wong, right, attend a news conference on Friday, © AP/Press Association Images
Share this article

By AP Reporters

The foreign ministers of the UK, Australia, the US and Canada issued a joint statement on Sunday expressing “serious concern” about the arrest of 55 democracy activists and supporters in Hong Kong last week.

The arrests were by far the largest such action taken under a national security law that China imposed on the semi-autonomous territory a little more than six months ago.

“It is clear that the National Security Law is being used to eliminate dissent and opposing political views,” the four foreign ministers said.

The Chinese and Hong Kong governments say the law is needed to restore order in a city that was rocked in 2019 by months of often violent anti-government protests demanding greater democracy.


Most of those arrested last week had taken part in an unofficial primary for a legislative election that was later postponed.

Advertisement

Authorities allege the primary was part of a plot to take control of the legislature in order to paralyse government and force the city’s leader to resign.

The 55 have not been charged, and all but three have been released on bail pending further investigation. Convictions could disqualify them from running for office.


Pro-democratic party members shout slogans in response to the mass arrests during a press conference in Hong Kong last Wednesday (Vincent Yu/AP)

The four foreign ministers said the next legislative election should include candidates representing a range of political opinions. Only half the city’s legislature is elected by popular vote.

“We call on the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong without fear of arrest and detention,” they wrote.

The statement was signed by Dominic Raab of the UK, Marise Payne of Australia, Mike Pompeo of the US, and Francois-Philippe Champagne of Canada.

Separately, Mr Pompeo announced on Saturday that the US is voiding long-standing restrictions on how its diplomats and others have contact with their counterparts in Taiwan, a self-governing island that China says should be under its rule.


Mike Lam King-nam, who participated in the pro-democracy primary elections, walks out at a police station after being bailed out in Hong Kong, on Thursday (Kin Cheung/AP)

Advertisement

The actions on Taiwan and Hong Kong will undoubtedly anger China, which views such moves as foreign interference in its internal affairs.

The Trump administration, which is in its final days, is also sending Kelly Craft, its ambassador to the United Nations, to Taiwan later this week.

China has sharply criticised the visit, while the Taiwan government has welcomed it.

Read More

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© BreakingNews.ie 2021, developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com