THE UK has combined with Canada, Australia and the US to express ‘serious concern’ over mass arrests of pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong.
The four countries issued a joint statement yesterday to condemn last Wednesday’s detention of more than 50 people in the former British colony.
They said the new National Security Law imposed on Hong Kong by China had ‘curtailed the rights and freedoms’ of citizens.
And they said it breached the terms of the agreement under which the territory was handed over to China by the UK in 1997.
‘We call on the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong without fear of arrest and detention,’ the allies said. ‘It is crucial that the postponed Legislative Council elections in September proceed in a fair way that includes candidates representing a range of political opinions.’
The statement was signed by foreign secretary Dominic Raab, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and the Australian and Canadian foreign ministers, Marise Payne and Francois-Philippe Champagne.
The arrested activists helped organise unofficial ‘primaries’ ahead of the elections, which ended up being postponed due to Covid.
Opposition parties arranged the informal polls to find out which of their candidates had the best chance.
The detainees are accused of trying to ‘overthrow’ the government by winning the elections.