International community condemns deprivation of pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong

The international community reacted strongly to the disqualification of four pro-democracy members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council by Chinese authorities on Wednesday, condemning Beijing’s further assault on freedom and democracy in Hong Kong.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the expulsion of the four lawmakers a further infringement on the high degree of autonomy and freedom enjoyed by Hong Kong under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

He said in a statement: “Such actions of harassment, oppression and disqualification of democratic opponents damage China’s international reputation and undermine Hong Kong’s long-term stability.”

Lord Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong, said it was “yet another example of the Chinese Communist Party trampling on what is left of democracy in Hong Kong.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress passed a resolution authorizing Hong Kong officials to remove dissident politicians without going through the courts. The Hong Kong government then announced the disqualification of four pro-democracy lawmakers, causing all 19 pro-democracy lawmakers to announce their collective resignation in strong protest.

The German presidency of the European Union on Wednesday expressed “deep concern” over China’s expulsion of four pro-democracy lawmakers from Hong Kong, saying the move “undermines pluralism and freedom of expression”.

A spokesman for the German foreign ministry said: “Hong Kong citizens have the right to participate in free and fair elections and enjoy the freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Hong Kong Basic Law.”

The spokesman said these rights must be respected and Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy must be upheld, adding that China has made an international commitment to this.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, said Wednesday that Beijing’s actions are a blatant violation of international commitments it has made and that Washington will continue to take steps to act. Earlier, the U.S. announced Monday that it was expanding its sanctions list of relevant officials by sanctioning four more mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials in response to Hong Kong’s national security laws.

In a statement, O’Brien wrote: “‘One country, two systems’ is now just a shroud for the Chinese Communist Party to expand one-party dictatorship in Hong Kong. The United States will continue to use all of its powers under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, and the Executive Order on the Normalization of Hong Kong to identify and sanction those responsible for extinguishing Hong Kong’s freedom.”

International organizations have also slammed China and the Hong Kong government for their actions.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China Policy, a group of North American, European, Australian and Japanese politicians, said in a statement Wednesday that this is a blatant attack on Hong Kong’s autonomy.

“We call on governments to take urgent action to hold Beijing accountable for its mistreatment of Hong Kong people and violations of international law,” the group said in the statement. “Democracies must take decisive action to defend the rules-based international order and values.”

The Hong Kong Association for the Promotion of Democracy called the new resolution a “death sentence” and said the Legislative Council would exist only as a “rubber-stamp” body.

The Washington-based organization said: “With today’s vote and the immediate disqualification of four opposition lawmakers, the Chinese Communist Party is telling the world that not only do they have complete control over the chief executive and her government, but they are now extending that absolute control to the legislature.”