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Thank you Mr President, thank you Honourable Members of this [European] Parliament,
The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating very fast - as you all rightly pointed out. On the 6th of January, the authorities conducted mass arrests under the National Security Law. The 53 arrested stand accused of subversion for participating in the pro-democracy primary elections held in July 2020. The criminalisation of legitimate political activity is aimed at stifling pluralism, pro-democracy voices, and the exercise of political and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong.
The arrests on the 14th of January of 11 individuals implicated in the attempted escape to Taiwan of 12 Hongkongers further compounds the impression that the criminal justice system is being deployed to punish “dissent”.
Since the imposition of the National Security Legislation by Beijing over Hong Kong, the European Union has conveyed with great unity its strong concerns publicly in a series of declarations and directly to the Chinese leadership at the Summit in June and the Leaders’ meeting in September.
The Leaders’ meeting of December was not only the occasion to conclude negotiations in principle on a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China, but also to raise concerns on Hong Kong. The European Union will continue to stand firm on its values and principles, while pursuing its interests.
In the same effort, in July, the Council adopted a European Union response package, comprising a mix of measures at EU and national level, such as further scrutinising exports of sensitive equipment, suspending extradition agreements, stepping up scholarships and academic exchanges, further engaging with civil society, and observing trials of pro-democracy activists.
There is consensus on continuing to apply the measures, and to consider additional steps in case of further deterioration. Unity and solidarity continue to prevail. We cannot let any Member State, any citizen, any Member of Parliament be singled out with respect to Hong Kong, Xinjiang, or, more broadly, China. By calling for the release of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai, the European Union will continue to stand firm on protecting its citizens.
Coordination with like-minded democracies on Hong Kong and addressing other challenges brought along by China will continue to be a cornerstone of our approach.
Hong Kong remains high on our political agenda and will be discussed at the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council on the 25th of January.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-201062