The top US diplomat in Hong Kong Monday urged the Chinese government to loosen political controls over Hong Kong which have broken international agreements, undermined the will of citizens and threatened its economy.
The PRC has taken steps to “dismantle and destroy” Hong Kong’s freedoms, said US Consul General Hanscom Smith. Beijing promised a high degree of autonomy and freedom of speech to Hong Kong in the 1997 Joint Declaration between China and Britain, Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the policy of One Country, Two Systems.
“We agree with the United Kingdom that Beijing is in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Joint Declaration,” stated Smith. He requested that China “honor the terms of the Joint Declaration, an international agreement, and give the city the autonomy Beijing promised.”
According to Smith, the PRC has used the 2020 Law on Protection of National Security of Hong Kong to prevent free and fair elections and to arrest over 100 activists, opposition figures and ordinary people since its passage two years ago. The erosion of democracy and the rule of law has strongly destabilized Hong Kong’s business environment.
After the national security law’s passage, China immediately received international sanctions from Europe, the UK and the US for its restrictions on freedom and autonomy in Hong Kong. European countries refused to ratify extradition treaties with China, and recently two UK judges resigned from Hong Kong’s top court, citing the country’s departure from political freedom.
A spokesperson for Hong Kong government’s Security Bureau said that Smith’s comments were unfair and untrue, and that “the law had safeguards protecting human rights, and any enforcement action was based on lawful evidence and did not relate to a person or group’s background.”