EU considers sending delegation to Hong Kong after electoral law reform

The EU has been slow to respond to China's repeated attacks on democracy in Hong Kong. It's time it starting catching up with the US and others, writes Reinhard Bütikofer. [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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