China continues to undermine Hong Kong's democratic institutions, says Blinken
The Chinese government continues to undermine the democratic institutions of Hong Kong and denies the residents the rights that China itself has guaranteed, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday after the city's Legislative Council approved the controversial bill to reform the electoral system.
Blinken said that new measures that alter the composition of the electoral system, severely constrain people in Hong Kong from meaningfully participating in their own governance.
"Decreasing Hong Kong residents' electoral representation will not foster long-term political and social stability for Hong Kong. This legislation defies the Basic Law's clear acknowledgment that the ultimate objective is the election of all members of the LegCo by universal suffrage," the US Secretary of State said in a statement.
The State Secretary also asked China and the Hong Kong authorities to allow the voices of all Hong Kongers to be heard. "We also call on these authorities to release and drop charges against all individuals charged under the National Security Law and other laws merely for standing for election or for expressing dissenting views," he said.
"The United States stands united with our allies and partners in speaking out for the human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed to the people in Hong Kong by the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law," he added.
The reforms passed on Thursday, allow the city's national security department to carry out background checks to ensure candidates for public office are "patriotic". Besides this, the Legislative Council will also be expanded to 90 seats from 70 through this law.
This comes after China's National People's Congress (NPC) in March had passed the resolution, paving the way for the biggest shake-up to the city's electoral system since its return to China in 1997.