US, UK, Canada and Australia on Thursday expressed "deep concern" over China's decision to impose national security law in Hong Kong, saying the move would undermine the "one country, two systems" framework and is in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally-binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.
They also said that Hong Kong's stability and prosperity are jeopardized by the new imposition and called upon China to work with the Hong Kong SAR Government and the people of Hong Kong to find a mutually acceptable accommodation that will honour its international obligations China's parliament on Thursday passed the proposal to impose a new national security law in Hong Kong.
"Signatories to this statement reiterate our deep concern regarding Beijing's decision to impose a national security law in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of freedom. The international community has a significant and long-standing stake in Hong Kong's prosperity and stability," UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a joint statement.
The statement said that direct imposition of national security legislation on Hong Kong by the Beijing authorities, rather than through Hong Kong's own institutions as provided for under Article 23 of the Basic Law, "would curtail the Hong Kong people's liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong's autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous".
"China's decision to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally-binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration. The proposed law would undermine the One Country, Two Systems framework," the statement said.
"It also raises the prospect of prosecution in Hong Kong for political crimes, and undermines existing commitments to protect the rights of Hong Kong people - including those set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights," it added.
The Sino-British Joint Declaration on the question of Hong Kong was signed in Beijing on December 19, 1984, by the Prime Ministers of China and Britain. The two governments agreed China would reassume control of Hong Kong from July 1, 1997.
"We are also extremely concerned that this action will exacerbate the existing deep divisions in Hong Kong society; the law does nothing to build mutual understanding and foster reconciliation within Hong Kong. Rebuilding trust across Hong Kong society by allowing the people of Hong Kong to enjoy the rights and freedoms they were promised can be the only way back from the tensions and unrest that the territory has seen over the last year," the statement said.
It said the world's focus on a global pandemic requires "enhanced trust" in governments and international cooperation while adding that Beijing's "unprecedented move" risks having the opposite effect.
"As Hong Kong's stability and prosperity are jeopardized by the new imposition, we call on the Government of China to work with the Hong Kong SAR Government and the people of Hong Kong to find a mutually acceptable accommodation that will honor China's international obligations under the UN-filed Sino-British Joint Declaration," it said.
Last week too, UK, Australia and Canada had issued a joint statement expressing deep concern over China's proposals for legislation on national security in Hong Kong.
Responding to China's moves on new security law for Hong Kong, the three countries had said the move would undermine the principle of 'One Country, Two Systems'.
China has defended the move saying that such legislations are necessary to protect the country's sovereignty from external forces determined to undermine the Communist Party.
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