Hong Kong: 20 years autonomy needs reinforcement, say MEPs
- Reinforce the EU - Hong Kong relations
- Respect for “One China, two systems” principles
- Press freedom challenges
The EU should be an advocate of Hong Kong’s autonomy and promote “one country, two systems” principle, said committee MEPs on Tuesday.
The recommendations on Hong Kong, drafted by the EP rapporteur Alyn Smith (Greens/EFA, UK), marks the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong handover from the United Kingdom to China. It recommends the EU to reinforce bilateral dialogue with Hong Kong on wide range of topics, such as, democracy, human rights, trade, customs or climate change.
One China, but two systems
Foreign affairs MEPs stress that “EU’s One China policy is the corner stone of the EU’s engagement”, but it also covers the respect for “One country, two systems” principle. They urge China to respect this principle and to avoid intervening in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.
Reform of elections
Committee MEPs call on Hong Kong and China to build up momentum “for the reform to universal suffrage in the future elections of the Chief Executive and the members of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, in order to have an election system that is democratic, fair, open and transparent.”
Open society with challenges to press freedom
The recommendations acknowledges that, over time, Hong Kong evolved into an open society where citizens enjoy human rights, freedoms, have a judiciary which is trusted and where the rule of law prevail. However committee MEPs signal that this trend has some pitfalls, as during the last 20 years some journalist and other media workers have been forced to resign or even threatened with violence.
They are concerned at the increasing harassment of opposition, the steady deterioration of press freedom in Hong Kong, pressure on the media and increased self-censorship with regard to covering sensitive issues on mainland China or concerning Hong Kong government. The EU needs to support the country’s organisations that promotes human rights, press freedom and judiciary, the text adds.
Foreign affairs MEPs also welcome the release on bail of the three leaders of the pro-democracy movement Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Cow and urge the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal to reconsider their cases in accordance with international human rights law.
The draft recommendations to the Council, the Commission, and the EEAS on Hong Kong was approved by 45 votes to 5, with 1 abstention. The full House is to vote on them at the December plenary session in Strasbourg.