US, Australian, Canadian and British diplomats issued a joint statement on Sunday condemning the detention of more than 50 Hong Kong activists, saying this proves that the city’s strict new national security laws are being used to target dissidents.
According to the Associated Press, Hong Kong officials announced last week that about 55 people had been arrested. This is the largest arrest since China issued a new national security law in 2020. All but the three have been released on bail.
Since the postponed legislative elections, most of the detainees have participated in an informal primary election, which the Hong Kong authorities claim is illegal.
The U.S. Secretary of State said in the joint statement: “It is clear that the National Security Act is being used to eliminate dissent and opposition political views.”
Pompeo also announced last weekend that the United States would lift diplomatic restrictions on relations with Taiwan, which had previously made concessions to China’s Taiwan territory.
Hong Kong officials accused diplomats of improperly interfering in sovereign affairs. He 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.”
Since the British government handed over control under the “one country, two systems” rule in 1997, Western diplomats called the National Security Law one of the clearest measures taken by the Chinese government to weaken Hong Kong’s autonomy. Prior to this, the bill originally allowed some suspects to be extradited to China due to a protest that lasted most of 2019 since the withdrawal of the bill.