The European External Action Service and the European Commission have today released their 18th annual report to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on political and economic developments in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) in 2015. The European Union adheres to a ‘one China’ policy and supports the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and its implementation.
2015 was a politically challenging year for the Hong Kong SAR and for the functioning of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle. The European Union regrets that the principal actors in the electoral reform process were unable to reach a compromise on the reform and that no progress was made towards the goal of introducing universal suffrage for the election of the Chief Executive from 2017. The EU encourages the Hong Kong SAR and Central Government authorities to enter into constructive discussions aimed at resuming the electoral reform and reaching an agreement on an election system that is democratic, fair, open and transparent.
The European Union considers the case of the five book publishers to be the most serious challenge to Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the ‘one country, two systems’ principle since Hong Kong’s handover to the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1997. The case raises serious concerns about respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. The European Union calls for the constitutional arrangements for Hong Kong SAR within the PRC to be fully respected. It is important to restore the trust of Hong Kong residents and the international community in the Basic Law and the ‘one country, two systems’ principle.
The Report concludes that other aspects of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle continued to function well in Hong Kong during 2015. The independence of the judiciary, robust anti-corruption measures and the rule of law continued to be upheld. However, a negative trend can be observed in press freedom and academic freedom, in particular in terms of institutional autonomy.
EU-Hong Kong trade, economic and cultural relations have been growing steadily. As in previous years, the European Union was Hong Kong’s second largest trading partner after mainland China, while Hong Kong was the European Union’s 15thlargest trading partner for trade in goods. The EU is looking forward to further strengthening and expanding its relations with the Hong Kong SAR, for example in the area of research and innovation.
The full report is available here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=JOIN:2016:10:FIN