EU considers sending delegation to Hong Kong after electoral law reform

Police clear a street where pro-vigil protesters were in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, China, 4 June 2021. For the second year in a row, police banned the annual candlelight vigil mourning the victims of the 1989 Beijing Tiananmen Square crackdown in Victoria Park marking the crackdown citing ongoing public health threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. [EPA-EFE/JEROME FAVRE]

The European Union denounced on Wednesday (9 June) Hong Kong’s major overhaul of its political system as a breach by China of its international commitments and threatened to send a delegation to visit the autonomous city.

The possible move is likely to irk Beijing which might see it as an interference with its domestic affairs and may further sour relations after the EU put on hold an investment deal with China over concerns about Hong Kong, China’s claims to sovereignty in most of the South China Sea, and the mass detentions of Muslim Uyghurs in northwestern China.

The EU “will intensify its response to the situation in Hong Kong, notably through increasing support to its civil society and media, promoting freedom of expression, facilitating mobility of Hong Kong citizens, as well as ensuring observation of the trials of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong,” the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a statement.

“A visit of high-level EU officials will be considered,” he added.

The legislative changes adopted by Hong Kong’s lawmakers late in May will reduce the proportion of seats in the legislature that are filled by direct elections from half to less than a quarter. A new body will vet candidates and bar those deemed insufficiently patriotic towards China from standing.

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