The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission has said in its report to congress that Hong Kong’s One Country, Two Systems framework has been “called into question” by Beijing’s increasing pressure.
The report observed that as the city shifts closer to the mainland, pro-democracy activists have expressed concern that “Hong Kong is losing the unique characteristics and legal protections that make the territory a key U.S. partner in the Asia Pacific.”
In the report released on Wednesday, the Commission said that China’s Basic Law interpretation on lawmakers’ oaths of office “raised widespread concerns about the level of autonomy in Hong Kong’s judiciary.”
It also made reference to Hong Kong’s disqualification of six lawmakers over their oath-taking and two lawmakers who are facing criminal charges – Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun who have been charged with public nuisance charges following their participation in the 2014 Occupy movement. The report said that the developments pose “a significant threat to the representation of pro-democracy voices in the legislature.”
It also said that “Mainland China continues to either disregard or ignore Hong Kong’s rule of law and its related commitments to the international community,” referring to the disappearance of the Causeway Bay booksellers and the abduction of Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua from the city’s Four Seasons hotel.
“These incidents have raised concerns about Hong Kong’s legal protections,” the report said.
The report further said that Chief Executive Carrie Lam – being Beijing’s favoured candidate in the 2017 election – “is unlikely to advance pro-democracy advocates’ goal of universal suffrage in chief executive elections.” It also noted the decline of press freedom, and said the arrest of activists in the days leading up to the July 1 march as well as the jailing of Joshua Wong and others demonstrated the erosion of freedom of expression.
A government spokesperson said in response to the report that – since the handover – Hong Kong has been exercising a high degree of autonomy and “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” under the Basic Law.
“This demonstrates the full and successful implementation of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, which has been widely recognised by the international community,” they said.
The government added that “Foreign legislatures should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of the HKSAR.”