Senior foreign and political officials from 23 countries, including former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten, warned that a new Chinese city security law was a “complete attack” on its residents. rights and freedoms and “could not be tolerated”. .
In a forceful statement, the 186 signatories said they were “gravely concerned” about the legislation and feared it would jeopardize the city’s future.
“The statement shows growing and widespread international outrage at the Chinese government’s decision to unilaterally impose national security legislation in Hong Kong,” said Patten.
Critics say the new security law effectively announces the end of Hong Kong’s current lifestyle. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described it as a “death knell” for the city’s autonomy.
Beijing’s decision to legislate for the territory effectively cancels the promises made when the city was delivered to China from British colonial rule in 1997. At the time, Hong Kong had 50 years of guaranteed autonomy, with all rights and civil liberties preserved for that. time.
It has its own police force, an independent judiciary and freedom of expression, which have played a vital role in building its reputation as an international finance and trade hub. All of this is likely to be threatened by the new law.
“This is the most serious threat to the people of Hong Kong that has hung over the Chinese government since 1997,” said Malcolm Rifkind, former British Foreign Minister and one of the signatories to the declaration. “The people of Hong Kong need and deserve our support.”
Covered offenses, including “treason, secession, sedition [and] subversion, “are used to stop and silence government critics on the continent. The draft law also authorizes Chinese security forces to set up outposts in the city.
And the Hong Kong authorities have made it clear that they will use their new powers to quell the pro-democracy protests that have plagued the city for almost a year.
Strong crackdown will not resolve grievances behind protest movement, which over the past year has only intensified as city police have turned to more tactics in addition to aggressive, said the international group.
“It is the real grievances of ordinary Hong Kong people that drive the protests. Draconian laws will only make matters worse, jeopardizing Hong Kong’s future as China’s open international city, “the statement said.
Policy makers and politicians from all political backgrounds and around the world gave their names to the declaration. In the UK, they include the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, Tom Tugendhat, two former leaders of the Conservative party, and the prominent human rights activist, Baroness Helena Kennedy.