Washington – The Group of Seven industrialized countries on Friday expressed “grave concerns” over what they view as a move by Chinese authorities to fundamentally erode democratic elements of the electoral system in Hong Kong.
“Such a decision strongly indicates that the authorities in mainland China are determined to eliminate dissenting voices and opinions in Hong Kong,” the foreign ministers of the countries, including the United States, Japan and Britain, said in a statement.
The G7 statement came a day after China’s parliament passed a resolution on overhauling Hong Kong’s electoral system in an apparent attempt to exclude pro-democracy and anti-communist activists from the political arena in the special administrative region.
The package of changes approved by the National People’s Congress, combined with mass arrests of pro-democracy activists and politicians, undermines Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle, the ministers said.
Under the policy, Hong Kong was promised it would enjoy the rights and freedoms of a semiautonomous region for 50 years after the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.
But Beijing has been tightening its grip on Hong Kong through such measures as enacting a national security law in June last year to crack down on what Beijing views as subversive activity in the territory.
In their statement, the G7 ministers call on China to restore confidence in Hong Kong’s political institutions and “end the unwarranted oppression of those who promote democratic values and the defense of rights and freedoms.”
The other G7 members are Canada, France, Germany and Italy, as well as the European Union.
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