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President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Today’s debate on Hong Kong – as you have all pointed to – is taking place in the week following the first anniversary of the draconian National Security Law.
On June the 24th, Hong Kong’s main pro-democracy media outlet, Apple Daily, printed its final edition, after several of its leading journalists, including the owner, Jimmy Lai, were arrested. This is just the latest step in a severe political deterioration over the past twelve months. Political activists have been imprisoned, opposition parties oppressed, civil servants compelled to take oaths of loyalty, and media, civil society and academia confronted with new restrictions and the need to self-censor.
As stated by High Representative/Vice-President [Josep] Borrell on June the 9th, the European Union will continue implementing the response package agreed in July of last year. We will also intensify our response through increasing support to civil society – including those outside Hong Kong – and media, promoting freedom of expression, facilitating mobility, as well as ensuring observation of the trials of pro-democracy activists. The European Union Office, European Union Member States and other like-minded missions are systematically monitoring court proceedings.
A visit of high-level European Union officials will be considered once conditions allow. The European Union will step up coordination and consultation with international partners, including in multilateral fora. The European Union is also committed to responding to any extraterritorial application of the National Security Law against any European Union citizen or business.
Since its imposition, this law has been used by the Hong Kong and mainland authorities to stifle political pluralism and the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms that are protected under Hong Kong law and international law. China claims that what is happening in Hong Kong is an internal matter and that the European Union’s reaction is ‘interference’.
We reject this. What is happening in Hong Kong constitutes a breach of international commitments, in particular of the Sino-British Joint declaration, which was registered with the United Nations as an international treaty. As High Representative/Vice-President Borrell has said, it is a question of trust, and of whether prior international commitments are respected. These actions undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and contradict China’s international commitments.
The European Union will continue to stand by the people of Hong Kong.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-208756