Beijing: 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.”
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.
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. The Chinese Foreign Ministry pushed back, saying it “deplores” the statement and that it had interfered in China’s internal affairs.- Bloomberg
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