UK says Hong Kong electoral changes undermine trust in China
LONDON (Reuters) – British foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Thursday proposed changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system would further undermine international trust in China.
China’s parliament approved on Thursday a draft decision to change Hong Kong’s electoral system, further reducing democratic representation in the city’s institutions and introducing a mechanism to vet and screen politicians’ loyalty to Beijing.
“This is the latest step by Beijing to hollow out the space for democratic debate in Hong Kong, contrary to the promises made by China itself,” Raab said in a statement.
“This can only further undermine confidence and trust in China living up to its international responsibilities and legal obligations, as a leading member of the international community.”
The Chinese embassy’s charges d’affaires, Yang Xiaoguang, told the BBC the reforms were to improve the long-term prosperity of Hong Kong, and that Britain and China had a “different definition” of democracy.
Asked about the possibility of British sanctions against Chinese individuals over the treatment of Hong Kong and other issues – something lawmakers have called for and the government says it is considering – he said: “It is our firm willingness to safeguard our interests at any cost. And don’t underestimate our strong will to defend our interests, as well as our dignity.”
(Reporting by Andy Bruce and William James, editing by Elizabeth Piper)