[This article has been reproduced with the permission of Hong Kong Watch. An original can be found at the Hong Kong Watch website]
A cross-party international coalition of 816 parliamentarians and policymakers from 40 countries today issued a statement decrying Beijing’s ‘unilateral introduction of national security legislation in Hong Kong,’ and calling for sympathetic governments to unite against this ‘flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration’.
Led by the former Governor of Hong Kong, Lord Patten, and the former UK Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the coalition comprises of a depth of expertise and experience including former prime ministers, foreign secretaries, defence ministers, prominent legal and human rights experts, diplomats, Senators, and Members of Parliament.
Lord Patten of Barnes said: “The statement shows growing and widespread international outrage at the decision by the Chinese government to unilaterally impose national security legislation in Hong Kong. The breadth of support, which spans all political parties and four continents, reflects both the severity of the situation and ongoing unified international support for the principle of one-country, two-systems.”
Notably there have been over 180 Canadian signatories, 165 British signatories, over 80 European Parliament signatories, more than 100 Japanese signatories, 35 US signatories, 30 German signatories, and 27 Australian signatories.
Signatories include three former UK foreign secretaries, two former Leaders of the UK Conservative Party and one former leader of the Labour Party and two former speakers of the House of Commons, and the former UK Deputy Prime Minister. It was signed by two former European Prime Ministers, as well as by the Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees of the United States, UK, Australia and New Zealand, leading Green Party Members from around the world, and all the Liberal Democrats in the UK House of Commons.
In the United States, it was signed by the Chairs of three separate House of Representatives Committees, as well as both co-chairs of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, and the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In Canada, it was signed by senior members of the Shadow Cabinet, leadership challengers Erin O’Toole and Peter Mackay, and the former Secretary of State for Asia Pacific David Kilgour. There is considerable representation in Asia including the Chair of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights. Diplomats represented included Britain’s former Ambassador to the UN, and former Ambassador to the US, as well as South Korea’s former human rights ambassador, and Samantha Power, the former US Ambassador to the UN.
Commenting on the publication of the international statement, Senator Marco Rubio, the Acting Chair of the US Senate Intelligence Committee said: “Through this letter, legislators from many democracies are uniting to express their support for Hong Kong’s autonomy and Hong Kongers. Our words must be met with actions and our governments should remain vigilant and ready to respond to Beijing’s violations of the Sino- British Joint Declaration.”
Senator Robert Menendez, the Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee, added, “Today we are all Hong Kongers. All those who support and respect international law, norms and behavior, and who support the people of Hong Kong and their legitimate aspirations for their autonomy, their human rights, and their democratic freedoms under ‘one country, two systems,’ have a responsibility to speak out today and make clear that Beijing’s behavior is unacceptable.”
Former UK Foreign Secretary and Hong Kong Watch Patron, Sir Malcolm Rifkind said: “This is the most serious threat to the people of Hong Kong that there has been from the Chinese Government since 1997. The people of Hong Kong need, and deserve, our support”
Hong Kong Watch’s co-founder and Chair, Benedict Rogers said:
“The death of democracy in Hong Kong should be of grave concern to us all. We hope that this international statement from policymakers across the political and geographic divide will send a clear message to Beijing that the world will not meekly consent to the dismantling of the ‘One, Country Two Systems’ Model overnight.”
Joint Statement from 816 Signatories
We, the co-signed, write to express grave concerns about the unilateral introduction of national security legislation by Beijing in Hong Kong.
This is a comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms. The integrity of one-country, two-systems hangs by a thread.
It is the genuine grievances of ordinary Hong Kongers that are driving protests. Draconian laws will only escalate the situation further, jeopardising Hong Kong’s future as an open Chinese international city.
If the international community cannot trust Beijing to keep its word when it comes to Hong Kong, people will be reluctant to take its word on other matters. Sympathetic governments must unite to say that this flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration cannot be tolerated.