G7 expresses grave concerns over electoral changes in Hong Kong

Brussels European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell holds a news conference in Brussels

Brussels European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell holds a news conference in Brussels

"Australia is seriously concerned about changes by Beijing to Hong Kong's electoral system, which weaken its democratic institutions", Payne said in a tweet on Friday.

"The European Union regrets that the fundamental freedoms, democratic principles and the political pluralism that are central to Hong Kong's identity and prosperity are under increasing pressure by the authorities", EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday in a statement on behalf of the 27-nation bloc.

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.

The problem in Hong Kong is a "political one", he said, repeating an often-used - but unproven - allegation by Beijing that outside forces are fomenting disruption in the financial hub.

Following massive protests in Hong Kong in the summer of 2019, voters in November that year installed a slate of pro-democracy candidates during district council elections as a rebuke to Beijing. Pro-democracy legislators were dragged out of the chamber by security guards as the two camps fought to control the House Committee which has been at a standstill for months.

On Thursday, only one member of the 2,896-strong National People's Congress abstained in the vote, which critics say will hammer another nail in the coffin of Hong Kong's democracy movement.

That will have a further chilling effect on free speech, civil society and opposition politics that have already been severely threatened since the NPC's imposition on Hong Kong past year of a sweeping national security law targeting any acts or words deemed secessionist, subversive or colluding with foreign forces to intervene in the city's affairs.

"There will still be some distinctions, particularly in things like commercial law, and taxation, in the way that the legislature operates", he said.

INTERPRETER: We urge the U.S. to stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, stop interfering in China's internal affairs, and not go down the wrong path even further.

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".

"If the Hong Kong judiciary starts to interpret certain cases in different ways, then that will be a real worry", he said.

People who travel to Hong Kong to holiday or for business would now have to consider the city as having the same restricted political freedoms as in mainland China, he said.

"No country, including NZ will allow local elections to pose a threat to or harm the national security", she said in a statement.

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