UK accuses China of non-compliance with joint treaty over HK election reform

London, Mar 13 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom’s government on Saturday said Beijing’s decision to overhaul Hong Kong’s electoral system was a further breach of the joint agreement underpinning handover of the former British colony.

UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the government considered the Chinese government to be in a state of “ongoing non-compliance” with the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

“Beijing’s decision to impose radical changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system constitutes a further clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration,” he said.

“This is part of a pattern designed to harass and stifle all voices critical of China’s policies and is the third breach of the Joint Declaration in less than nine months.”

He added: “The UK will continue to stand up for the people of Hong Kong. China must act in accordance with its legal obligations and respect fundamental rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.”

One of the agreements in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration was that Hong Kong would retain its semi-autonomous status under the “one country, two systems” framework until 2047.

China’s National People’s Congress, the annual parliamentary meeting, on Thursday  approved a controversial electoral reform proposal for Hong Kong that seeks to boost Beijing’s presence in the semi-autonomous city and restrict the strength of the pro-democracy opposition.

Several Chinese officials and analysts had in recent weeks said that the reform sought to fill legal loopholes and ensure that people holding important official positions in Hong Kong must be “staunch patriots.”

Mass protests erupted in Hong Kong in 2019 against a proposal from the city’s government to introduce a law that critics said would make it easier for Beijing to extradite dissidents from the territory.

The bill was eventually shelved, but the protests swelled and morphed into more general anti-government and pro-democracy demonstrations.

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