Canberra, Australia (Associated Press)-The foreign ministers of Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada issued a joint statement on Sunday expressing “serious concern” over the arrest of 55 democracy activists and supporters in Hong Kong last week.
The arrest is the largest such action ever taken by China’s national security law on semi-autonomous territories more than six months ago.
The four foreign ministers said: “It is clear that the National Security Act is being used to eliminate dissent and opposition political views.”
The Chinese and Hong Kong governments have stated that laws are needed to restore order in the city. The city was shaken in 2019 by frequent anti-government protests over the past few months, demanding the strengthening of democracy.
In response to the Foreign Minister’s statement, the Hong Kong government said: “We are shocked by the remarks of some overseas government officials. These remarks seem to imply that people with certain political beliefs should not be punished by law.”
Most of the people arrested last week participated in an informal primary election, a legislative election, which was later postponed. Authorities claimed that the main electoral districts were part of a conspiracy to control the legislature to paralyze the government and force the city’s leaders to resign.
55 people were not charged and all but three were released on bail. Pending further investigation. Faith may disqualify them from running for office.
The four foreign ministers stated that the next legislative election should include candidates representing a range of political views. Only half of the city’s legislature is elected by universal suffrage.
They wrote: “We call on Hong Kong and the central government of China to respect the rights and freedoms of the Hong Kong people guaranteed by law without fear of arrest and detention.”
The statement was signed by Marise Payne of Australia, Francois-Philippe Champagne of Canada, Dominic Raab of the United Kingdom and Mike Pompeo of the United States.
In addition, Pompeo announced on Saturday The United States is giving up long-term restrictions on how its diplomats and others can contact Taiwan’s counterparts. China says this is an autonomous island and China should place it under its own rule.
Actions against Taiwan and Hong Kong will undoubtedly anger China, and China regards such actions as foreign interference in its internal affairs.
The Trump administration (coming to end) also dispatched Kelly Craft, Its ambassador to the United Nations, will go to Taiwan later this week. China strongly criticized the upcoming visit, and the Taiwan government welcomed it.