G7 foreign ministers on Monday voiced misgivings about how Hong Kong’s new leader was chosen, accusing the Chinese territory of flouting democratic convention.

Chief Executive-elect John Lee. Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the United States joined the EU in putting on record their “grave concern over the selection process,” in which a coterie of Beijing loyalists appointed John Lee.

Lee, 64, is a former security chief who oversaw the crackdown on Hong Kong’s democracy movement and was the only candidate to succeed outgoing leader Carrie Lam.

The G7 foreign ministers said the selection process by secret ballot was “part of a continued assault on political pluralism and fundamental freedoms.”

They accused the Hong Kong authorities and China of boosting the number of non-elected members to the election committee and “drastically” cutting eligible voters from the process.

Flags of the G7 countries. Photo: Georgina Coupe, via Flickr.

“The current nomination process and resulting appointment are a stark departure from the aim of universal suffrage and further erode the ability of Hong Kongers to be legitimately represented,” they added. 

“We are deeply concerned about this steady erosion of political and civil rights and Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a tweet on the joint statement, said that Beijing “undermined” Hong Kong’s “ultimate aim of universal suffrage in the undemocratic selection of the Hong Kong Chief Executive.”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Sunday said the result was “yet another step in the dismantling of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle”, where Beijing promised it would maintain key freedoms and autonomy.

The G7 foreign ministers repeated their calls for China to uphold its bilateral and international legal commitments in the former British colony.

They also urged Lee to “respect protected rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, as provided for in the Basic Law, and ensure the court system upholds the rule of law.”

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