Britain and allies condemn flood of Hong Kong arrests

Britain and allies condemn flood of Hong Kong arrests”

The UK has joined with allies Canada, Australia and the U.S. to express "serious concern" over the mass arrests of pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong.

The arrests marked the largest move against the pro-democracy movement since the controversial national security law was imposed by Beijing last June in a clampdown on protests in the territory. It is clear that the National Security Law is being used to eliminate dissent and opposing political views.

The governments of China and Hong Kong have argued that the law is needed to restore order to the territory, which was rocked by months of anti-government protests in 2019, with people demanding greater democracy. Their arrest by the Hong Kong police is necessary, lawful and reasonable, and has won broad support from the Hong Kong society, said the spokesperson.

We call on the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong without fear of arrest and detention.

The people arrested were linked to an unofficial primary organized by pro-democracy parties ahead of legislative elections. All but three have been released on bail pending further investigation.

"It's very clear that the authorities, this time, want to cast one net to capture all those who may have been planning to contest the upcoming elections - if they even take place - and to make it very hard for them to run".

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The governments also recommended that Legislative Council elections - scheduled for December - should be postponed until candidates with varying political opinions are included. Only half the city's legislature is elected by popular vote.

"The legitimate rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong have been upheld and criminals are brought to justice through our independent judiciary", he said in an emailed response to Reuters, without responding to questions about Beijing's role.

The statement was signed by Marise Payne of Australia, Francois-Philippe Champagne of Canada, Dominic Raab of the UK and Mike Pompeo of the United States.

"China strongly condemns and firmly opposes the relevant countries confusing right and wrong and grossly interfering in Hong Kong's affairs and China's internal affairs".

The announcements follow statements last week by OFAC clarifying a November order from U.S. President Donald Trump that banned Americans from investing in Chinese companies that the U.S. considers to have links with China's military. China has sharply criticised the upcoming visit, while Taiwan's government has welcomed it.

The second pro-Beijing source confirmed there were advanced talks on structural changes to Hong Kong's political system, including possibly curtailing the influence of democrats on a 1,200-person election committee to select Hong Kong's next leader in 2022.

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