The Swiss foreign ministry has said it is concerned about the postponement of the Hong Kong parliamentary elections and the disqualification of certain candidates, according to SwissInfo.
The ministry said it had repeatedly stressed the importance of democratic debate and the maintenance of the “one country, two systems” principle in Hong Kong.
It stressed that electing representatives to the Legislative Council, the Hong Kong Parliament, is a key element in this process. “Switzerland calls on the Hong Kong authorities to hold the elections as soon as the public health situation permits,” it said.
Switzerland’s mutual legal assistance agreement with Hong Kong contains only so-called accessory legal assistance, the ministry said. Extradition is explicitly excluded. In addition, the treaty provides grounds for excluding mutual legal assistance, for example if the request concerns a criminal offence of a political nature.
On Friday Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam postponed the election for the Legislative Council, citing public health dangers in the Chinese-ruled city, but said there were political considerations.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell yesterday criticized the decision to postpone the Hong Kong Legislative Council elections. He said that would undermine democracy in Hong Kong.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday said Berlin was ending its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. “We have repeatedly clarified our expectation that China will comply with its international legal obligations,” he said. This includes the right to free and fair elections to which the people of Hong Kong are entitled, Maas added.
France yesterday said that it is halting ratification of its extradition treaty with Hong Kong because the new national security law has undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and fundamental freedoms.
“In light of the latest developments, France will not proceed as it stands with the ratification of the extradition agreement signed on May 4, 2017 between France and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement.
The US has decided to rescind Hong Kong’s special trading privileges while Washington’s “Five Eyes” intelligence partners have suspended their extradition treaties with the city, with New Zealand on Tuesday joining Canada, Britain and Australia. The United States has signalled it is preparing to do the same.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the “imposition” of the new security law in Hong Kong by Beijing was a “serious violation” of the country’s international obligations.
The UK and others fear the new arrangement could see anyone extradited to Hong Kong from their territory being subsequently sent on to China.
Chinese foreign ministry accused these countries of “gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.
“Judicial co-operation has been politically manipulated by Canada, Australia and the UK – a wrong move that damages the conditions for such co-operation and deviates from its purpose of upholding justice and the rule of law,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
In a related development, the Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin tweeted that the US side hasn’t renewed visa of Chinese journalists and the Chinese side will retaliate, suggesting that US journalists in Hong Kong may be targeted.
“The relevant US actions have severely disrupted Chinese journalists’ normal reporting activities, gravely damaged the reputation of the Chinese media and affected the normal people-to-people exchanges between the two sides,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “The US should immediately correct its mistakes and stop its political oppression on the Chinese media and journalists.”
By Winnie Troppie