Canada joins chorus warning China
Canada warned China to respect the autonomy of Hong Kong after the Chinese Communist Party submitted plans for a controversial new law that could crush dissent in the former British colony.
The intervention came as Hong Kong braced for its first mass pro-democracy protests for months after Beijing said it would bypass the city’s legislature to bring in sweeping new powers limiting freedom.
At the opening of its National People’s Congress (NPC) this week, Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, said China would establish a “sound” legal system and enforcement mechanisms to ensure national security in Hong Kong and Macau.
The plan was condemned as an assault on Hong Kong’s freedoms, with Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State calling it a “death knell” for the city’s high degree of autonomy.
On Friday, François-Philippe Champagne, foreign affairs minister, joined his counterparts from Britain and Australia in a statement that said they were “deeply concerned” at the new law.
Under a Joint Declaration, signed when Hong Kong became a Chinese region, rather than a British colony, in 1997, “China pledged to respect the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, guaranteeing Hong Kong freedoms not seen on the mainland,” said the statement.
It added, “Making such a law on Hong Kong’s behalf without the direct participation of its people, legislature
WE WANT TO ENSURE THAT THE ONE COUNTRY, TWO SYSTEMS APPROACH CONTINUES.
or judiciary would clearly undermine the ‘one country, two systems’ principle under which Hong Kong is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy.”
At his daily press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for dialogue and a de-escalation of tensions.
“We are concerned with the situation in Hong Kong. We have 300,000 Canadians who live in Hong Kong, and that’s one of the reasons why we want to ensure that the one country, two systems approach continues for Hong Kong.”
On Thursday, Trudeau took a rare swipe at Beijing when he accused China of the “arbitrary” arrest of two Canadians in “retaliation” over Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, who was arrested by Vancouver police in December 2018 and is fighting extradition to the United States on fraud charges.
“China doesn’t work quite the same way and (doesn’t) seem to understand that we do have an independent judiciary from political intervention,” he said.