Hong Kong: Statement by HR/VP Josep Borrell on the Legislative Council Election held on 19 December 2021
Hong Kong’s seventh Legislative Council Election took place on 19 December 2021.This was the first such election since the imposition of the National Security Law and the implementation of sweeping changes in the electoral system which run counter to the commitments to greater democratic representation enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law. The European Union regrets this violation of democratic principles and political pluralism.
The Legislative Council Election saw a reduction in the number of seats directly elected by Hongkongers. The fundamental rights of Hong Kong citizens were also impacted by threats of legal action against those calling for non-participation.
The EU recalls the arrest of 47 pro-democracy advocates including former opposition lawmakers and civil society representatives in January 2021 for their role in pro-democracy primary elections in July 2020. Many of these individuals have not been able to stand in the Legislative Council Election as they were held in custody on charges pursuant to the National Security Law. The arrests of opposition figures also had an impact on the number of candidates.
In addition, pressure on Hong Kong’s civil society has intensified, as reflected in the disbanding of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union and the Civil Human Rights Front as well as the closure of the Amnesty International office. Press freedom has been eroded, as manifested in the enforced closure of Apple Daily and the arrest of Jimmy Lai and the editorial staff of the newspaper. Lengthy pre-trial detention for some individuals involved in non-violent acts is another sign of the continued curtailing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong. The independence of the judiciary must be guaranteed, with its crucial role in safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong.
The European Union sees this election, in combination with the ongoing pressure on civil society, as yet another step in the dismantling of the ‘One Country Two Systems’ principle. It attaches great importance to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democratic principles and the rule of law, in line with the Basic Law and with international commitments. The EU will continue to follow developments closely, including the election of the Chief Executive scheduled for March 2022. The EU calls on Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to abide by their national and international commitments, notably the commitment to democratic representation through universal suffrage.