Washington [US], November 19 (ANI): The United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and Australia on Wednesday reiterated their serious concerns regarding China's imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong and called on Beijing to reconsider their actions and stop undermining the rights of the people of the city to elect their representatives.
In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of US, UK, New Zealand, and Australia, said that the disqualification of the elected legislature is a clear breach of its international obligations under the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.
"We, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, and the United States Secretary of State, reiterate our serious concern regarding China's imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong. Following the imposition of the National Security Law and postponement of September's Legislative Council elections, this decision further undermines Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms," the Five Eyes alliance said in a statement posted by the US State Department.
"China's action is a clear breach of its international obligations under the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration. It breaches both China's commitment that Hong Kong will enjoy a 'high degree of autonomy', and the right to freedom of speech," it said.
The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Earlier this month, four Hong Kong opposition lawmakers were disqualified with immediate effect after China's top legislative body--National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC)--passed a resolution, which gives local authorities power to unseat politicians without having to go through the city's courts, Hong Kong Free Press reported.
The lawmakers unseated were the Civic Party's Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok, alongside Kenneth Leung of the Professionals Guild, who were previously barred from running in the now-postponed Legislative Council elections, originally slated for September.
Following their disqualification, all the Hong Kong's opposition lawmakers on Wednesday last week resigned together in protest.
The alliance said that the disqualification rules appear part of a "concerted campaign to silence all critical voices following the postponement of September's Legislative Council elections".
"After the imposition of charges against a number of elected legislators and actions to undermine the freedom of Hong Kong's vibrant media, we call on China to stop undermining the rights of the people of Hong Kong to elect their representatives in keeping with the Joint Declaration and Basic Law. For the sake of Hong Kong's stability and prosperity, it is essential that China and the Hong Kong authorities respect the channels for the people of Hong Kong to express their legitimate concerns and opinions," it said.
"As a leading member of the international community, we expect China to live up to its international commitments and its duty to the people of Hong Kong. We urge the Chinese central authorities to re-consider their actions against Hong Kong's elected legislature and immediately reinstate the Legislative Council members," it added. (ANI)