The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven industrial democracies Friday sharply criticized China’s recent moves sharply restricting democratic rule in Hong Kong, saying a new law approved this week by the rubber-stamp National People’s Congress betrays promises Beijing made to preserve the former British colony’s political freedoms.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, Italy and the European Union said in a joint statement Friday the approach pursued by China’s Communist leadership “fundamentally erode[s] democratic elements in the electoral system in Hong Kong.”
“Such a decision strongly indicates that the authorities in mainland China are determined to eliminate dissenting voices and opinions in Hong Kong,” the ministers added.
The statement comes as the Biden administration is still formulating its overall approach to China after bilateral ties sharply deteriorated under the Trump administration. Mr. Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan are slated to have their first face-to-face talks with their Chinese counterparts at a one-day meeting in Alaska next week.
Having passed a national security law last year that resulted in the detention and exile of scores of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement leaders, Beijing this week pushed through electoral changes designed to cement a parliamentary majority in the local administrative government for pro-Beijing forces.
China has sharply rejected past criticisms as an interference in its internal affairs, but the G-7 ministers cited promises made by Beijing to preserve Hong Kong’s unique political system and civil liberties when it took control from the British in 1997.
“The people of Hong Kong should be trusted to cast their votes in the best interests of Hong Kong,” the G-7 statement said. “Discussion of differing views, not the silencing of them, is the way to secure the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.”