Pompeo, US allies decry 'erosion of rights' in Hong Kong

Pompeo, US allies decry 'erosion of rights' in Hong Kong

16:22 - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. issued a joint statement Sunday decrying the “erosion of rights” in Hong Kong over Beijing’s imposition of a controversial national security law, among other changes for the semi-autonomous region.

“These moves have undermined the democratic process that has been fundamental to Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” they said.

“We express deep concern at Beijing’s imposition of the new National Security Law, which is eroding the Hong Kong people’s fundamental rights and liberties,” the diplomats added.

The leaders also condemned the recent decision for Hong Kong to postpone its legislative elections and urged the government to “reinstate the eligibility of disqualified candidates so that the elections can take place in an environment conducive to the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Basic Law.”

“Beijing promised autonomy and freedoms under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle to the Hong Kong people in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a U.N.-registered treaty, and must honor its commitments. We urge the Hong Kong government to hold the elections as soon as possible,” they added.

Earlier this month, Pompeo said there is “no valid reason” for Hong Kong to postpone its elections for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pro-democracy groups said the decision is part of an attempt to thwart opposition candidates challenging those supported by Beijing.

China’s legislature in June passed a national security law that critics say will undermine the autonomy of the territory granted under the 1997 British handover of Hong Kong. The proposed law followed months of anti-government protests in the city.

In response last month, President Trump signed an executive order ending the U.S. policy of treating Hong Kong differently than mainland China, as well as sanctions on those who assist China in restricting Hong Kong’s autonomy.

“This law gives my administration powerful new tools to hold responsible the individuals and the entities involved in extinguishing Hong Kong’s freedom,” Trump said at the time.

“We’ve all watched what happened. Not a good situation. Their freedom has been taken away. Their rights have been taken away. And with it goes Hong Kong, in my opinion, because it will no longer be able to compete with free markets,” he added.

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