Published: Sat, March 13, 2021

China defying Hong Kong joint treaty: United Kingdom

China defying Hong Kong joint treaty: United Kingdom

Those started to come under stress following the suppression of anti-government protests in 2019 and the imposition of the national security law, as foreign governments began severing some legal agreements with the city and the USA imposed visa bans and other sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials, including Lam. "Such a decision strongly indicates that the authorities in mainland China are determined to eliminate dissenting voices and opinions in Hong Kong", the joint statement from the G7 countries read.

China's parliament voted Thursday for sweeping changes to Hong Kong's electoral system, including powers to veto candidates, as Beijing moves to ensure that only "patriots" run the city following huge pro-democracy rallies.

The Chinese attempt to label its crackdown on Hong Kong as an "internal matter" ignores the commitments Beijing made in the Sino-British Joint Declaration to uphold Hong Kong's autonomy and enumerated rights and freedoms until at least 2047, he said.

Australian foreign minister Marise Payne on Friday expressed serious concern at Chinese changes to Hong Kong's electoral system, saying the reforms weakened Hong Kong's democratic institutions.

Hong Kong's influential Election Committee, which selects the city's leader and is already stacked with Beijing loyalists, will be expanded to 1,500 representatives, up from 1,200.

With China's economic rise and creation of vast companies such as tech giant Huawei, Hong Kong has few other advantages and in the eyes of many is gradually being reduced to the status of just another city in the thriving Pearl River delta region. Remaining pro-democracy lawmakers quit when four of their colleagues were expelled for being deemed insufficiently patriotic, and 47 former legislators and other activists have been arrested under the national security law on subversion charges that carry a possible maximum penalty of life in prison.

What is the Sino-British joint declaration?

In 1985, China and the United Kingdom agreed that Hong Kong would return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 under certain conditions, and for the territory to "enjoy a high degree of autonomy".

Changes to Hong Kong approved this year still need to be written and then promulgated under the country's opaque political system - but are likely to include vetting the political views of candidates in Hong Kong's legislature and reducing the number of directly elected seats.

"It is essential that Hong Kong people have channels to exercise their fundamental freedom of political expression".

"Without that consensus, the first handover probably wouldn't have happened", he said.

US President Joe Biden's administration has committed to reviewing elements of US policies towards China, as the world's two largest economies navigate relations that sank to their lowest depths in decades during Mr Donald Trump's presidency.

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