The foreign ministers of seven major countries joined hands on Wednesday to issue a rare statement expressing “grave concern” over Beijing’s unprecedented decision to impose a national security law in Hong Kong.
The G7 representatives from the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the EU, said the decision was not in line with the city’s mini-constitution – the Basic Law – and its international commitments under the UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.
Last month, month revealed plans to promulgate laws to prevent, stop and punish behaviours in Hong Kong that it deems a threat to national security. The laws are set to be inserted into the city’s mini-constitution, bypassing the local legislature, following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest in the city.
“The proposed national security law would risk seriously undermining the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle and the territory’s high degree of autonomy,” the G7 statement said. “It would jeopardize the system which has allowed Hong Kong to flourish and made it a success over many years.”
“We are also extremely concerned that this action would curtail and threaten the fundamental rights and freedoms of all the population protected by the rule of law and the existence of an independent justice system,” they added.
Details on when the law may be promulgated and what exact behaviours may be criminalised remain unclear. The move has nevertheless alarmed democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian hit out at the G7 statement on Thursday: “We have repeatedly said that the core content of the Sino-British Joint Declaration is China’s resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong,” he said, according to state-run news wire Xinhua.
Additional reporting: Tom Grundy.