London: The UK has issued a joint statement with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States calling on Hong Kong to reinstate disqualified candidates and to hold legislative council elections as soon as possible.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in the statement on Sunday that he and his counterparts from the other four countries were gravely concerned about the disqualification of candidates in Hong Kong.
“We call on the Hong Kong government to reinstate the eligibility of disqualified candidates,” the statement said. “We urge the Hong Kong government to hold the elections as soon as possible.”
The UK-led intervention came after Hong Kong’s government called US-imposed sanctions against senior officials “shameless and despicable.”
The United States on Friday sanctioned Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and 10 other officials in response to the imposition of a Chinese national security law on the territory.
In language closely resembling statements issued by Beijing, a government spokesman accused the US of “double standards and hypocrisy”.
As well as Lam, police chief Chris Tang, former police chief Stephen Lo, Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng and newly appointed national security chief Eric Chan were among the local officials singled out by the US.
Top Hong Kong and Chinese official took pot shots at the United States on Saturday, with Lam mocking the US on Facebook, saying the Trump administration had got her address wrong, listing the official address of her chief deputy instead.
At a press briefing last month, Lam said she would “laugh off” any US sanctions, since she does not have any assets in the country nor plans to visit.
The sanctions freeze all US assets belonging to those named and put severe restrictions on Americans doing business with them.
Edward Yau, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, called the sanctions “beyond all reason” and warned that US companies in the region would ultimately suffer.
The sanctions were introduced in response to Beijing’s imposition of a new national security law on Hong Kong in late June, and for postponing for one year elections in which the government was expected to fare poorly. Pro-democracy candidates won a landslide victory in local-level elections last November.
The law introduces tough new prison terms for acts of subversion, succession and colluding with foreigners.
It also establishes a parallel legal structure to try such cases through specially appointed police units, prosecutors and hand-picked judges, shielded from public or media scrutiny.
Reuters, AP, McClatchy