The authorities in Hong Kong have deployed the new provisions for candidacy and taking up of public offices to expel 49 democratically elected District Councillors from their seats. A first group of more than 210 pro-democracy District Councillors felt compelled to resign from their positions before the process started.
These developments, based on very broad provisions in the law, negate the results of the November 2019 District Council elections, in which pro-democracy candidates secured more than 80% of the seats. Their exclusion from participation in political life weakens Hong Kong’s democratic governance structure.
Meanwhile, the pressure on civil society has increased. This is reflected in the disbandment over recent weeks of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union and the Civil Human Rights Front.
The disbandment of civil society groups has proved once again that the National Security Law has had a chilling effect on the exercise of protected rights and freedoms in Hong Kong and has served as the centrepiece of a crackdown on the democratic opposition.
The protection of civil and political rights in Hong Kong is a fundamental part of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, which the EU supports. The EU calls on China to act in accordance with its international commitments and its legal obligations and to respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms.
The EU expects the Chinese and the Hong Kong authorities to end the targeting of those who defend rights and freedoms and democratic values and to restore confidence in Hong Kong’s democratic process.