20 January 2022
Today, the European Parliament has passed a joint-resolution condemning the recent assault by Beijing on press freedom in Hong Kong, which has seen the closure of Stand News, Citizen News, and arrest of a number of journalists and pro-democracy activists.
In the resolution, Members of the European Parliament called for the release of all political prisoners in Hong Kong and reiterated calls for the EU to issue of emergency travel documents for journalists at risk of arrest.
The resolution, overwhelmingly backed by all of the party groupings within the Parliament, noted that the recent “patriots” Legislative Council elections which took place in December were neither “free nor fair” and led to “the dismantling of all forms of political opposition”, raised concern regarding the appointment of the chief of staff of the Armed Police Force in Xinjiang to the PLA garrison in Hong Kong, and called on the Hong Kong Chief Executive to withdraw plans to introduce Article 23 national security legislation.
Members of the European Parliament used the resolution to reiterate their calls for the EU to introduce targeted Magnitsky sanctions against the Hong Kong Chief Executive and other Hong Kong officials, the suspension of extradition treaties with the People’s Republic of China, and called for EU Member States to implement lifeboat schemes for Hong Kongers. It restated that any future ratification by the Parliament of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment would consider the human rights situation and China’s commitment to the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
The joint-resolution also urged the EU to “review the EU-Hong Kong Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters and the EU’s support for Hong Kong’s seat at the World Trade Organisation in light of the destruction of the territory’s autonomy under the previously established “One Country, Two Systems Model”.
Commenting on the Parliament’s joint-resolution on Hong Kong, Sam Goodman, Hong Kong Watch’s Senior Policy Advisor, said:
"Today the European Parliament has sent an unequivocal message of condemnation to Beijing over its actions in Hong Kong. Parliamentarians have rightly underlined that Beijing's actions are unacceptable, whether that is muzzling the free press, locking up democrats, or enacting further appalling national security legislation. A review of the EU's support for Hong Kong’s seat at the WTO and its bilateral customs treaty is long overdue.
We urge the Commission and EU Member States to adopt the actions in this urgent resolution, which outlines a clear blueprint of credible actions the EU can take to hold China accountable for its destruction of Hong Kong’s autonomy, its crackdown on human rights, and its ongoing attempts to silence all forms of dissent. This includes the sanctioning of Hong Kong officials, the implementation of lifeboat schemes, and the suspension of extradition treaties with the PRC.
It is well past time all EU institutions put their statements of concern into action and demonstrate clearly that they stand with the people of Hong Kong.”