MEPs respond to statement by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government

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Responding to the statement by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government in response to representations by international politicians – including a letter from 34 Members of the European Parliament to Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam – following the arrest of 15 of the most prominent and distinguished pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong on 18 April, Miriam Lexmann, a Member of the European Parliament from Slovakia, together with Lithuania’s former Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and Defence Minister Rasa Jukneviciene, all serving Members of the European Parliament, issued the following statement:

“We are surprised that the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China has chosen to respond to our legitimate concerns over human rights and the state of the rule of law in Hong Kong with insults rather than substance. We respect the sovereignty of other countries, but we believe that human rights are universal – which is why we have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and, moreover it has been recognised that Hong Kong’s Public Order Ordinance is not in line with Hong Kong’s obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The arrest of 15 of the most renowned, respected, distinguished pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong, who are the epitome of moderation and peaceful protest, represents a direct assault not only  on Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy but also on  the international rules-based order. Moreover, this assault has not happened in isolation but is part of a wider deterioration of human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong. 

The Sino-British Joint Declaration is not only a bi-lateral treaty between Britain and China but is also an international legal agreement lodged at the United Nations, and as such, it is the responsibility of the entire international community to ensure its protection and observation. 

On these grounds, it was entirely right and proper for members of the European Parliament to make representations to the Government of Hong Kong. If China breaks its promises under the Joint Declaration, how can we be expect to trust  the Chinese government will abide by its promises under any other international treaty it has signed?

Benedict Rogers, co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch, said: “The Hong Kong government, under direction and dictation from the Communist Party regime in Beijing, appears determined to burn its bridges with the international community day by day, by insulting distinguished critics, tearing up international obligations and spurning international goodwill. 

It is staggering how a previously professional and competent administration in Hong Kong, well versed in the skills of international diplomacy, has been hijacked completely by Chinese Communist Party thugs whose first instinct – upon which they act – is to launch knee-jerk abuse at very distinguished international politicians who express concerns. 

We have seen this repeatedly – especially after the letter by 44 distinguished global figures from 18 countries in protest at police brutality after the Christmas and New Year period – and this is deeply detrimental to Hong Kong’s standing as a global financial and trading centre, as one of Asia’s most open cities and as a respected regional hub.” 

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