BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany, holder of the European Union’s rotating presidency, has criticized China for the dismissal of several pro-democracy opposition lawmakers from the city assembly in Hong Kong.
A foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday the decision to remove four opposition members of Hong Kong’s legislative council was the latest step of a “deeply worrying” trend which was aimed at undermining pluralism and freedom of expression.
The Chinese parliament earlier adopted a resolution allowing the city’s executive to expel lawmakers deemed to be advocating Hong Kong independence, colluding with foreign forces or threatening national security, without having to go through the courts.
Shortly afterwards, the local government announced the disqualification of four assembly members who had previously been barred from running for re-election as authorities deemed their pledge of allegiance to Hong Kong was not sincere.
“The citizens of Hong Kong have the right to free and fair elections and to the freedoms and rights guaranteed in the Basic Law,” the German Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Those rights have to be respected and Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy must be preserved, the spokesman said, adding that China had made an international commitment to do so.
The foreign ministry spokesman urged authorities to quickly set a new date for the postponed elections of the Asian financial hub’s legislative council as quickly as possible.
The statement did not mention any further steps or consequences such as summoning the Chinese ambassador or even imposing sanctions against China.
China is one of Germany’s most important trading partners, with German car makers currently benefiting from surprisingly robust Chinese demand.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Mark Heinrich)