10 foreign affairs committees urge China to uphold commitments to Hong Kong

Enn Eesmaa.
Enn Eesmaa. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Chairs of 10 foreign affairs committees of the European Union released a joint statement to express their concern and disappointment at China's recent decision to impose the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region without the consent of the people of Hong Kong.

The statement has been signed by the Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees of the parliaments of Belgium, Estonia, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Latvia, Norway, Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom, and the European Parliament.

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu Enn Eesmaa (Center) said since the law had been adopted by Beijing and not by Hong Kong, it constituted a direct breach of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration lodged with the United Nations.

"The Declaration set out that Hong Kong would retain its autonomous executive, legislative and independent judicial power until at least 2047. China's recent step, however, disregarded the agreement, and my colleagues from other parliaments and I can in no way agree to such a breach. Quite the contrary – we condemn it," Eesmaa stated.

The Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees note the law raises significant concern that judicial independence is being undermined by empowering Hong Kong's Chief Executive rather than its Chief Justice is to appoint judges to hear national security cases.

The signatories find that this threatens civil rights and the commercial stability.

"Allowing China jurisdiction further violates the Joint Declaration as well as the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The legislation also goes against China's own Basic Law for Hong Kong which states that Hong Kong is to bring forward its own national security legislation", the statement reads.

The statement also says that Hong Kong's autonomy and independent judiciary have guaranteed the personal rights and freedoms of its people for decades and have made the territory an important keystone in the international trading system.

"Given their rights and the importance of Hong Kong, this cannot be seen as a purely domestic affair. In breaching a legally binding agreement and undermining the rule of law, this also undermines the good faith among nations who enter into international agreements."

The Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees say that article 38 causes further concern as it seeks to violate the sovereignty of other nations.

"In claiming extraterritorial jurisdiction it infringes freedom of speech in countries like ours that place a high value on civil rights. It is hard to see how an extradition treaty with either Hong Kong or China could be agreed when the demands of Beijing infringe so directly on basic human rights in our nations," it is stated.

"We urge the People's Republic of China to rethink its decision to impose this law, and to uphold its commitments to the people of Hong Kong as well as the international community," the signatories say to conclude their joint statement.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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