London [UK]: China on Tuesday rejected remarks made by the US and its allies regarding the erosion of democratic elements of Hong Kong’s electoral system.
“China urges a handful of countries to take off their mask of hypocrisy, respect China’s sovereignty and unity, and stop any form of interference in HK affairs, which are China’s internal affairs,” said the Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the UK. This year’s Legislative Council elections mark a sobering milestone in the Chinese government’s dismantling of Hong Kong’s democracy, freedoms and autonomy. The elections will be the first to take place since changes made under the ‘patriot’ electoral reform law; changes that have slashed the number of directly contested seats and require candidates to be screened by government officials.
The elections will also be the first since the passage of the National Security Law in June 2020, since which all of Hong Kong’s major opposition leaders are now in jail or exile.
The US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand on Tuesday expressed grave concerns over the erosion of democratic elements of the Special Administrative Region’s electoral system.
“Actions that undermine Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms and a high degree of autonomy are threatening our shared wish to see Hong Kong succeed,” said a joint statement released by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“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,” the joint statement added.
“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,” the statement added.
The criticism came as pro- Beijing candidates have swept to victory in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council election amid low voting turnout under amended electoral laws.
The election was the first in Hong Kong since Beijing amended electoral laws to reduce the number of directly elected legislators and vet candidates to ensure that only those loyal to China could run, Al Jazeera reported.
Some 30.2 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots in Sunday’s election, a figure that is almost half that of the previous legislative poll in 2016.