After the postponement of the election in Hong Kong, Germany suspends the extradition agreement with the Chinese special administrative region. There is growing pressure to take a harder course against Beijing.
Hong Kong / Berlin (AP) – The postponement of the election in Hong Kong has met with sharp criticism internationally and in the Chinese special administrative region. The democratic forces in the Asian metropolis spoke of “electoral fraud”.
Germany suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong. The chairwoman of the Bundestag’s Human Rights Committee, Gyde Jensen (FDP), called on the German government and the EU to step up their efforts to promote the democracy movement. “The pressure on China has to be increased significantly if something is to change in the situation.”
The German government should use the German EU Council Presidency to examine personal sanctions against Chinese party officials at EU level, demanded the human rights politician Jensen. On the other hand, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) must cancel the EU-China summit, which has so far only been postponed. “Beijing cannot be offered another platform here.”
The Foreign Minister announced on Friday evening that the extradition agreement would be suspended. Germany has repeatedly clarified the expectation “that China will comply with its international law obligations,” said Maas. This includes the right to free and fair elections to which the people of Hong Kong are entitled.
A few hours earlier, Hong Kong Prime Minister Carrie Lam announced that the parliamentary election planned for September in the former British Crown Colony would be postponed by a year. She justified the relocation with the risk of the corona virus, since the number of new infections in Hong Kong has recently increased again.
Critics saw the election postponement as an attempt to prevent embarrassment, as there is great resentment about the government camp that is loyal to Beijing and the controversial new state security law. Beijing wants to prevent “the opposition bloc from taking a majority in the Legislative Council,” said Wong. “Our resistance will continue, and we hope that the world will stand by our side in the upcoming tough struggle,” the activist told the press.
Prime Minister Lam denied political motives. The pandemic is a great danger. When it comes to voting, there are large gatherings and social contacts that pose a serious risk. In the past few months, there have been more countries that have canceled or postponed elections than those that have held them. The opposition had previously argued that elections had taken place in other countries and precautionary measures could be taken.
China is heavily criticized for its Hong Kong policy. The new security law was passed in late June. It targets activities that China sees as subversive, separatist, or terrorist. It is also intended to punish «secret agreements» with forces abroad. It is the most extensive encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy to date and gives China’s state security extensive powers. Hong Kong’s democratic opposition believes that the law targets them.
Since the return of the former British Crown Colony to China in 1997, Hong Kong has been ruled autonomously with its own freedoms. From the point of view of critics, the State Security Act means the end of the principle “one country, two systems” that has been pursued since then. It is also seen as a violation of China’s international obligations in returning Hong Kong.
In response, the EU adopted a comparatively moderate package of measures at the beginning of the week, in which each Member State is free to decide what to do with it. Germany has already imposed an export ban on certain goods that can be used to monitor the population or that can be used by the military or police, for example, to demonstrate against the civilian population. The first steps towards expanding scholarships for Hong Kong researchers or students have also been taken. Visa issuance is also to be made easier.
Of all the measures, the suspension of the extradition agreement is considered to be the one that could most likely anger China. Among other things, it is a reaction to the fact that the new security law also enables suspects to be transferred to China’s judiciary, which does not act independently and has a conviction rate of around 99 percent. Critics warn of ill-treatment and forced confessions in China. The law also applies to people abroad and provides for the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.