NZ, Australian foreign ministers condemn changes to Hong Kong electoral system

Source: 1News

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne have this afternoon announced a joint statement condemning changes to Hong Kong's electoral system, which they say will "further undermine Hong Kong's autonomy".

RATANA, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 07:  Minister for Maori Development Nanaia Mahuta looks on during centenary celebrations at Ratana Church on November 7, 2018 in Ratana, New Zealand. This year marks 100 years since prophet Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana is said to have received a divine revelation from which the Ratana Church was born.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

"The Governments of Australia and New Zealand, like G7 counterparts, are deeply concerned that changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system passed by the National People’s Congress on 11 March further undermine rights and freedoms and the high degree of autonomy guaranteed by China to Hong Kong until 2047 under the Sino-British Joint Declaration," Mahuta and Payne said.

"Australia and New Zealand have always wanted Hong Kong to succeed, given its role as a significant hub for finance, trade, and our communities overseas. This depends on Hong Kong continuing to enjoy a high degree of autonomy and respecting the rule of law."

It comes after the Chinese ceremonial legislature today passed a decision allowing a pro-Beijing committee the power to appoint more of the semi-autonomous region's lawmakers, reducing the number voted in by the public. 

The move was met by criticism by the US and UK.

The foreign ministers said the changes "run contrary to the ultimate aim of a Hong Kong Chief Executive elected through universal suffrage, weaken Hong Kong’s democratic institutions, and erode freedom of speech and association – all of which are set out in the Basic Law".

"This is a significant step which will further undermine Hong Kong's autonomy."

Mahuta and Payne urged the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to "uphold their commitments, allow genuine avenues for the people of Hong Kong to participate in their governance, and protect the role of the Legislative Council as a forum for the expression of diverse views and scrutiny of government".

Beijing has not not ruled out the participation of pan-democrats in the Hong Kong government, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office deputy director Zhang Xiaoming said today.