UK says China broke treaty with new rules on Hong Kong

The U.K.’s Foreign Office accused China of violating a decades-old agreement pledging to preserve Hong Kong’s governing system following the expulsion of several pro-democracy lawmakers and resignations of their colleagues from the city’s Legislative Council.

Reuters reports that the British government is considering sanctions in response to a Chinese resolution calling for the expulsion of any members of the Council who support Hong Kong’s independence from Beijing.

“Beijing’s imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong constitutes a clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration,” said the U.K.’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, according to the news service.

“China has once again broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy,” Raab continued.

Raab’s top deputy added that the U.K. would “continue to consider designations under our Magnitsky-style sanctions regime” for top pro-China officials in Hong Kong when asked if Carrie Lam, the island’s chief executive, would be sanctioned.

The remaining members of the Council’s pro-democracy voting bloc resigned on Thursday following the expulsion of their colleagues, which was defended by Lam a day earlier. The expulsions were also condemned by the Trump administration.

″‘One country, two systems’ is now merely a fig leaf covering for the [Chinese Communist Party’s] expanding one-party dictatorship in Hong Kong,” said Robert O’Brien, head of the U.S. National Security Council.

The city has seen months of pro-democracy protests over a new national security law supported by Beijing that critics argue undermines the territory’s autonomy.

The Trump administration responded to Hong Kong’s new law earlier this year by ending the U.S. policy of treating Hong Kong as a separate entity from mainland China and imposing sanctions on top figures including Lam.

China has defended the measures and condemned foreign influence in the protests, which rocked the streets of Hong Kong for months and drew outrage from residents over the treatment of demonstrators by police.

“We would like to warn these opposition members that if they want to use this to encourage radical resistance and beg for intervention from outside forces to drag Hong Kong into chaos again, that is a wrong calculation,” said China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office this week.

Tags Carrie Lam China Dominic Raab Hong Kong pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong Robert O'Brien

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