U.S., Western Allies ‘Concerned’ Over Hong Kong Arrests

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The U.S. Secretary of State and foreign ministers of the U.K., Canada and Australia expressed their “serious concern” about the arrest of 55 politicians and activists in Hong Kong, the governments said in a joint statement.

Hong Kong’s National Security Law, under which the arrests were made, is a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and undermines the “one country, two systems” framework, according to the statement.

The people arrested last week haven’t been charged yet and most of them had been released as of late Friday, although their passports and travel documents were confiscated. They were held on suspicion of “subversion” for their roles in helping organize a democratic primary contest over the summer that involved more than 600,000 voters.

In an emailed response Sunday, the Hong Kong government rejected the criticism, defended the new statute, and said that no one was above the law. The city’s government said it has a responsibility to safeguard national security and accused the four countries of “slandering” the National Security Law.

According to the earlier statement from the four governments, the new statute “has curtailed the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. It is clear that the National Security Law is being used to eliminate dissent and opposing political views.”

“We call on the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong without fear of arrest and detention,” the officials said in the statement. “It is crucial that the postponed Legislative Council elections in September proceed in a fair way that includes candidates representing a range of political opinions.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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