UK, US, Canada, Australia say China in direction violation of int’l obligations

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New Delhi/London: In an unprecedented move, the US, the UK, Australia and Canada on Friday jointly reprimanded China, stating that its decision to impose a new security law on Hong Kong was in direct violation of international obligations.

The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo issued a joint statement which said, “China’s decision to impose the 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 representatives of the four powerful nations of the world said that the proposed law would undermine the ‘One Country, Two Systems framework’.

Censuring China, the group of four said that they were deeply concerned regarding Beijing’s decision since the international community has a significant and long-standing stake in Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

“Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of freedom. 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 Hong Kong people’s liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous,” the statement said.

The new law “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.”

The four representatives said that they were “also extremely concerned that this action will exacerbate the existing deep divisions in Hong Kong society.” The law, they said, does nothing to build mutual understanding and foster reconciliation within Hong Kong.

Rebuilding trust across Hong Kong by allowing the people 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.

Arguing that the new imposition has “jeopardised Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity”, the four nations called the government of China to work with the Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region government and the people of Hong Kong to “find a mutually acceptable accommodation that will honour China’s international obligations under the UN-filed Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

Censuring Chinese leadership over its irresponsible behaviour during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the four nations said, “The world’s focus on a global pandemic requires enhanced trust in governments and international cooperation. Beijing’s unprecedented move risks having the opposite effect.”

(Agencies)