More than a tenth of the European Parliament’s 751 members have come together to call for the Hong Kong government to formally withdraw its extradition bill and introduce democratic reforms, and demand an EU-wide ban on supplying weapons to the city’s police.
The motion, which will be “urgently” debated on Thursday, was tabled by 85 members on Wednesday, just a day after the parliament approved the nomination of Ursula von der Leyen as president of the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm.
The cross-party, multinational motion “strongly condemns the constant and increasing interference by China in Hong Kong’s internal affairs, as well as the recent assertion by China that the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 is a historic document and hence is no longer valid”.
“The Chinese government is bound by the Joint Declaration to uphold Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and its rights and freedoms,” it said.
If the European Parliament passes the motion when it votes on it on Thursday, the parliament’s president will be instructed to forward the recommendation to the European Council – the 28 leaders of the EU member states – as well as the European Commission and the governments of Hong Kong and Beijing.
Some high-profile signatories included the European Parliament’s vice-president Fabio Massimo Castaldo; David McAllister, chair of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee; Lithuania’s ex-prime minister Andrius Kubilius; and Andrus Ansip, former vice-president of the European Commission.
They echoed Hong Kong protesters’ demand for the city’s government to set up an “independent, impartial, effective and prompt investigation into the use of force” by the police during the protests.
The motion also demanded peaceful protesters be immediately released, with their charges dropped.
Calling on the Hong Kong government to formally drop the extradition bill, it notes that Carrie Lam, the city’s leader, had already announced “that the widely loathed legislation was ‘dead’ whereas she stopped short of announcing that the bill would be withdrawn”.
Amid reports that Germany and Britain are considering suspension of arms sales to the Hong Kong police, the European Parliament’s motion “calls for the EU, its member states and the international community to work towards the imposition of appropriate export control mechanisms to deny China, and in particular Hong Kong, access to technologies used to violate basic rights”.
Former Finnish economy minister Mauri Pekkarinen, and former Czech defence and justice ministers Alexandr Vondra and Jiri Pospisil also endorsed the motion.
A slew of ex-foreign ministers – Anna Fotyga from Poland, Tonino Picula from Croatia, Estonian Urmas Paet and Sandra Kalniete from Latvia – also joined the call.
Despite Lam’s assurance that the bill was “dead”, the ongoing protests have no end in sight, with thousands joining street protests on a weekly if not daily basis.
Apart from the call for the bill’s withdrawal, protesters have demanded the introduction of universal suffrage, which some see as the way to avoid a repeat of the Hong Kong government’s attempt to push through the bill.
The European Parliament motion called on the Hong Kong government to introduce “systematic reform to implement direct elections for the position of chief executive and to the Legislative Council”.
It also demanded the release of Gui Minhai, a Swedish national and one of the five Hong Kong book sellers who were detained by Chinese authorities in 2015 for publishing political gossip about the Communist Party. The high-profile case was seen as a direct affront to the freedom of expression guaranteed in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Britain and China continue to row over Hong Kong as Jeremy Hunt warns Beijing not to ‘repress’ protests
- British PM hopeful Jeremy Hunt urges Xi Jinping to keep Hong Kong’s freedoms
- Ursula von der Leyen nominated to lead European Commission – but will she be tougher on China?
This article European MPs’ motion calls for Hong Kong to withdraw extradition bill and start democratic reform first appeared on South China Morning Post