Hong Kong has slammed as “unfounded” and “ridiculous” allegations in the reports recently issued by the US and the UK about what they call deteriorating democratic rights and freedoms in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
In a statement on Thursday, the regional administration in Hong Kong rejected the allegations leveled against it in the reports and urged foreign countries “to stop interfering into the internal affairs of China through Hong Kong affairs.”
“We strongly oppose the unfounded and ridiculous allegations against the HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) Government made by foreign countries through various reports,” the statement said.
In an updated assessment of the situation in the Chinese region released on Thursday, the UK government claimed that “alternative voices in Hong Kong’s executive, legislature, civil society and media had been all but extinguished.”
Making similar allegations in its report, which covered the 12 months from March 2021, the US government accused Chinese authorities of taking actions “that eliminated the ability of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition to play a meaningful role in the city’s governance and effectively criminalized peaceful political expression critical of the central and local governments.”
Both reports accused the region’s local government of jailing or disqualifying “pro-democracy” politicians from elections.
“As the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Beijing approaches, Hong Kong’s freedoms are diminishing while the PRC (People’s Republic of China) tightens its rule,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Thursday accompanying the latest Hong Kong Policy Act Report.
The latest reports from the UK and the US come after two British Supreme Court judges resigned from the region’s highest court, citing the effects of the National Security Law by China. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam dismissed their exit as “politically motivated.”
China proposed the security law in June 2020 after huge protests swept the city in 2019. The sweeping law criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign powers.
On Friday, Hong Kong said the law had “restored stability,” and that the local government retained an “unwavering commitment” to the rule of law, insisting that it did not impede the freedoms of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong rejects claims of media crackdown
The UK report also accused the regional government of closing independent and pro-democracy media outlets such as Stand News and popular Apple Daily.
The government was quick to hit back at the report, saying that Hong Kong’s media landscape remained “as vibrant as ever” with some 211 registered organizations.
“The media can exercise their right to monitor the HKSAR Government’s work, and their freedom of commenting on or even criticizing government policies remains uninhibited as long as this is not in violation of the law,” the government said.
Hong Kong has been governed under the ‘one-country, two-system’ model since the city- a former British colony- was returned to China in 1997.
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