London [UK], November 12 (ANI): UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday slammed China for disqualifying the elected legislators in Hong Kong, saying that Beijing has once again broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy.
"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," Raab said in a statement.
The Foreign Secretary Raab said the UK will stand up for the people of Hong Kong, and call out violations of their rights and freedoms.
"China has once again broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy. The UK will stand up for the people of Hong Kong, and call out violations of their rights and freedoms. With our international partners, we will hold China to the obligations it freely assumed under international law," Raab said.
This comes after four Hong Kong opposition lawmakers were disqualified with immediate effect after the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) passed the resolution, South China Morning Post reported.
The statement by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the decision is part of a pattern apparently designed to "harass and stifle all voices critical of China's policies."
"We judge that this decision breaches the legally-binding Sino-British Joint Declaration. It breaches both China's commitment that Hong Kong will enjoy a 'high degree of autonomy' and the right to freedom of speech guaranteed under Paragraph 3 and Annex I of the Declaration," the statement said.
It said the new rules for disqualification provide a further tool in this campaign, with vague criteria open to wide-ranging interpretation.
The lawmakers unseated on Wednesday were the Civic Party's Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Kwok Ka-ki and Dennis Kwok, alongside Kenneth Leung of the Professionals Guild, who were previously barred from running in the now-postponed Legislative Council elections, originally slated for September.
The four were originally disqualified in July from contesting the Legco elections - which were subsequently postponed for a year by the government, citing coronavirus pandemic concerns - for previously calling on foreign governments to sanction Beijing and Hong Kong. They were, however, at the time allowed to carry on and serve out the extended one-year term. (ANI)