Five Eyes Alliance Urges China to Keep Hong Kong Commitments
The ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence partnership called on China to “live up to” its duty to the people of Hong Kong after Beijing moved to demand loyalty from the city’s lawmakers, prompting its opposition to resign en masse.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the foreign ministers of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K., the countries that make up the alliance, reiterated “serious concern” over China’s new rule in a joint statement on Hong Kong.
“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,” the statement said, referring to the city’s mini-constitution. “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.”
The group called on China’s central government “to re-consider their actions against Hong Kong’s elected legislature and immediately reinstate the Legislative Council members.” The Hong Kong government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday morning.
China said it was “strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed” to the statement, and called its action toward Hong Kong’s legislature “legal, legitimate and beyond any challenge.”
“These countries acted against international law and basic norms guiding international relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing on Thursday. “They pointed fingers at Hong Kong affairs, which are a part of China’s internal affairs.”
China’s move to disqualify lawmakers not deemed sufficiently loyal was one of its strongest yet to stifle protest and dissent in the former British colony. The measure has fueled concerns about basic freedoms in the city and its future autonomy from the mainland.
This week Hong Kong police also arrested three opposition politicians in connection with a disruptive protest in the legislative chamber months ago. The three men -- Eddie Chu, Raymond Chan and Ted Hui -- made bail on Wednesday, and their case will resume Feb. 11.
The Five Eyes has increasingly expanded beyond intelligence cooperation to weigh in on geopolitical issues of shared concern, and is a potential platform for President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration to rally its allies against a more assertive Beijing.
The alliance in August issued a statement saying it was “gravely concerned” about candidate disqualifications in Hong Kong and the postponement of the city’s legislative election.
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