Hong Kong. UK and US criticize erosion of rights and freedoms 25 years after handover | hong kong

British and American leaders have criticized China’s erosion of freedoms and rights in Hong Kong, as the territory marks 25 years since its handover to Britain.

After Xi Jinping began his first visit to the city since 2017, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Beijing had failed to honor the agreed ‘one country, two systems’ deal under the agreement that ended British colonial rule in 1997.

Vowing not to ‘give up’ on Hong Kong, Johnson said: ‘This is a situation that threatens both the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people and the continued progress and prosperity of their country.’

Blinken said Friday was meant to be half of the promised 50 years of autonomy under one country, two systems, “yet it is now apparent that authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing no longer consider democratic participation, fundamental freedoms and independent media as part of this vision.

“Authorities imprisoned the opposition… raided independent media… weakened democratic institutions, delayed elections,” Blinken said. “They did all this in order to deprive Hong Kong people of what they were promised.”

Stating that a strict security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in 2020 had led to an “erosion of autonomy”, he said: “We stand in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong and reinforce their calls for the restoration of promised freedoms”.

On Thursday, Xi told crowds in Hong Kong – in a highly choreographed visit where opportunities for dissent were stifled and media coverage severely curtailed – that the region was “rising from the ashes”.

“My heart and that of the central government have been with our compatriots in Hong Kong,” he said, according to a translation by the South China Morning Post. “Over the past few years, Hong Kong has gone through various severe challenges one after another and overcome them.

“After the wind and the rain, Hong Kong is rising from its ashes and displays a strong vivacity.

“As long as we stick to the ‘one country, two systems’ framework, Hong Kong will definitely have a brighter future and make new and greater contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people,” he said.

On Friday, Xi will be sworn in as the territory’s next chief executive, John Lee, a former security chief who oversaw a crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

The day began with a flag-raising ceremony at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The brief ceremony lasted about 20 minutes and took place amid a typhoon warning. While Hong Kong activists have gathered outside the flag-raising ceremony in the past, they have been warned by national security police not to protest this year.

A woman pushing a baby cart walks past the police checkpoint outside West Kowloon High Speed ​​Rail Station ahead of President Xi Jinping’s arrival Photography: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Lee pledged to unite the city for “a new chapter”, while promising an even more aggressive approach to counter “fear and bashing” from critics.

Johnson said he would seek to continue to hold China to its commitments, so that Hong Kong is “once again run by the people of Hong Kong, for the people of Hong Kong.” He said the UK immigration route for holders of UK National (Overseas) passports attracted 120,000 applications last year.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss echoed Johnson’s comments and said: ‘Authorities have stifled opposition, criminalized dissent and driven out anyone who can speak the truth in power.

“The UK’s historic commitment to Hong Kong and its people continues. This is why we continue to challenge China for violating the legally binding commitments it signed under the Joint Declaration.

“We have denounced their behavior on the world stage and have joined our G7 partners in condemning the steady erosion of Hong Kong’s political and civil rights and autonomy.”

Australia has also criticized China for restricting people’s rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.

“Australia remains deeply concerned about the continued erosion of Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms and autonomy, two years after the imposition of the National Security Law,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong said. .

theguardian Gt

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