Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have urged the EU not to ratify a planned investment deal with China until Beijing repeals national security laws and new restrictions on who can and can’t stand for elections.
Twenty four activists wrote to the EU Commission while the trading bloc prepares to make the case for its deal to the European parliament before MEPs vote to ratify. Only then can it come into effect.
One of the main recent acts which activists point to is the unanimous vote by China’s National People’s Congress to change Hong Kong electoral laws to state that only “patriots” can stand in elections.
The activists argue that China are flagrantly violating their “obligations to the international community to guarantee the autonomy and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.” Specifically, the rewriting of Hong Kong’s electoral system flies directly in the face of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
Under China’s National Security Law, there continue to be mass arrests of pro-democracy activists and lawmakers across Hong Kong and, according to the letter to the EU, Beijing are “infringing on basic freedoms guaranteed both under the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
The deal has already faced staunch opposition from members of the international community as well as within the EU. The letter will no doubt come as a welcome addition to the arguments posed by the not inconsiderable number of MEPs who would seek to not ratify this deal.
They say that the deal puts the EU in a compromised position with China, as it’s advocating closer economic ties with the state while vocally condemning China’s suppression of democracy in Hong Kong.
The US has already voiced its disappointment at the potential deal as well.
However, those within the EU in support of the deal claim that it improves market access for EU companies and provides levers to make future demands on human rights. They posit that economic disconnect from China is unrealistic and the best option to illicit change is to compete on more equal terms with them.
The activists rebuke this, saying that the EU will never have greater leverage over China that it currently does.
Between continued unrest in the region and the new visa outreach to Hong Kong residents, we are seeing more and more people emigrating from Hong Kong to the UK. If you or anyone you know is looking to make the move, our team of immigration solicitors are second to none. We hold some of the most sought after qualifications and accreditations in the sector and would be delighted to advise you on your legal standing within the immigration system.