Japan, France Agree to G-7 Message on Hong Kong, NHK Says

(Bloomberg) -- Japan and France have agreed that foreign ministers of the Group of Seven countries should soon issue a statement on their concerns about Hong Kong, public broadcaster NHK said, citing a government source.

The Thursday NHK report comes a day after China protested Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assertion that he wanted Japan to take the lead toward issuing a joint statement. Japan has already repeatedly expressed concern about Chinese national security legislation that could expose people and companies operating in the former British colony risk to greater risk of investigation and prosecution.

The agreement came in a call between Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, NHK said. Japan’s foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the two ministers had “shared serious concern about the decision made by China’s National People’s Congress regarding policies toward Hong Kong.”

The legislation has reignited demonstrations in Hong Kong, following months of pro-democracy protests last year triggered by opposition to a since-scrapped bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland.

The G-7 statement is set to include an expression of concern and a call on China to maintain the “one country, two systems” framework, NHK said. Under that arrangement, China agreed with the U.K. to maintain a “high degree of autonomy” for Hong Kong, preserving its liberal institutions and capitalist economic structure, for at least 50 years after the city’s return in 1997.

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