Ye Aung Thu. AFP via Getty Images.
The Foreign Affairs Ministers of New Zealand and Australia released a joint statement on Saturday, expressing the two nations’ concerns regarding China’s changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) approved a resolution to overthrow Hong Kong’s electoral system on Thursday. This resolution, which may be enforced within months, will allow Beijing to infiltrate Hong Kong’s government using a pro-CCP vetting panel. The panel will filter out any undesirable election candidates, allowing only pro-Beijing candidates to succeed.
“The Governments of Australia and New Zealand, like G7 counterparts, are deeply concerned that changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system passed by the National People’s Congress on 11 March further undermine rights and freedoms and the high degree of autonomy guaranteed by China to Hong Kong until 2047 under the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Mahuta and Payne’s statement reads.
The document further declares that Hong Kong requires autonomy to succeed as a necessary finance and trade centre.
The Ministers emphasised the importance of democracy and freedom for Hong Kong’s people, especially the freedom to elect and criticise their government:
“These [electoral] changes run contrary to the ultimate aim of a Hong Kong Chief Executive elected through universal suffrage, weaken Hong Kong’s democratic institutions, and erode freedom of speech and association – all of which are set out in the Basic Law,” stated Mahuta and Payne.
According to Radio New Zealand (RNZ), Ms Mahuta wants Communist China to keep its supposed “one country, two systems” constitutional principles.
“Just last week, we heard that charges had been laid against 47-odd opposition representatives, signalling a continued erosion of democratic freedom, but also escalating concerns from the international community about the impact on those in Hong Kong.”
On the other side of the world, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned the CCP that its imposed electoral changes on Hong Kong would further damage China’s global reputation.
Conversely, in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Chinese foreign ministry official Yang Xiaoguang claimed China’s definition of democracy was supposedly different to the United Kingdom and that it would defend its position at any cost. This claim sounds strangely familiar to Joe Biden’s shocking dismissal of the CCP’s Uyghur genocide as a mere cultural difference.
In Hong Kong, locals are already upset, and rightfully so, about the new wave of assault on their democracy.
“They [the CCP panel] will pick the people that they like, someone who is one of them,” a citizen stated in a BBC interview.
“Basically, it’s a step backwards, becoming more and more like the mainland.”
RNZ. (March 13, 2021). NZ and Australia condemn Hong Kong electoral reform by China.