EU Proposes Unified Response to Hong Kong Issue

  • "We have agreed today to develop a coordinated European response to show support for Hong Kong's autonomy and civil society," Borrell said.
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gave a more specific proposal in the French-German proposal.
  • Germany will not extradite those to Hong Kong who face political persecution.

EU foreign ministers met on Monday to discuss China’s countermeasures against the implementation of the National Security Law against Hong Kong. Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, said that the EU continues to pay attention to the Hong Kong Security Act that came into effect last month.

Josep Borrell is a Spanish politician, current High Representative of the European Union since 1 December 2019. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Government of Spain since 2018 until 2019.

“We have agreed today to develop a coordinated European response to show support for Hong Kong’s autonomy and civil society,” Borrell said. He added that it will include measures at the EU level, as well as practices that belong to the jurisdiction of individual member states. This includes a review of “specific and sensitive” technologies exported to Hong Kong, but he did not specify which products.

Borrell also mentioned that the relevant measures may also involve the issuance of visas for Hong Kong citizens and the provision of more scholarships to Hong Kong students. However, the visa policy still belongs to the national authority and can be determined by the member states.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gave a more specific proposal in the French-German proposal. He reiterated China’s obligation to respect human rights, and said that China’s decision “should have an impact on the EU’s arms exports.”

He said that the French-German proposal also included proposals to simplify the EU’s visa procedures for Hong Kong artists, scientists, researchers, and journalists. Some EU countries have expressed support for the proposal, including Sweden. Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said before the meeting, “we need to react.”

Merkel Mentions Hong Kong Issues

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, near Berlin on July 13th, she rarely criticized China for affecting Hong Kong’s autonomy, and called on the EU to adopt a unified stance on China at the EU-China Summit in September. Merkel said:

“The development of Hong Kong for the ‘one country, two systems’ that has always been applied is shocking. This is being questioned very much but all of these are not reasons for not continuing to communicate with China. But there is no doubt, this is a difficulty.”

Heiko Maas is a German politician who serves as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the fourth cabinet of Angela Merkel since March 14, 2018. He served as the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection from December 17, 2013 to March 14, 2018.

On the same day, at a press conference of the German federal government, a reporter asked whether Germany would consider interrupting its extradition agreement with Hong Kong.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that regardless of whether there is an extradition treaty or not, the German legal system ensures that those who are subjected to political persecution, and those who may be tortured locally, are not extradited. He also added, “Germany’s relationship with Hong Kong is based on a reliable and independent judiciary.”

Federal government spokesman Seffen Seibert went on to say that he did not express his views on the president’s remarks the day before. The attitude of the Federal Chancellor, the Federal Government and the European Union on the Hong Kong issue is the same. That is, the high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong cannot be hollowed out.

The principle of the rule of law under “one country, two systems” can be implemented, they said. The rule of law in Hong Kong should be respected, within this scope, the freedom of Hong Kong citizens to exercise their civil rights peacefully should not be questioned.

This is the attitude of the European Union and the position of the German federal government. The government will not extradite those who are politically persecuted.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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