After strong U.S. response on Hong Kong, EU, Germany take heat for backing China

FPI / June 4, 2020

The European Union, under pressure from Germany, has decided not to take any action against China for its imposition of new laws that will essentially end Hong Kong’s autonomy.

‘The EU has issued a predictably weak and equivocal declaration on China’s growing interference in Hong Kong.’ / Reuters

In stark contrast to measures announced by the U.S. and UK, EU foreign ministers released a statement on May 29 saying the EU expressed “grave concern” about China’s actions in Hong Kong but added that “EU relations with China are based on mutual respect and trust.”

EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell added that the bloc has no plans for sanctions on either Beijing or Hong Kong.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the best way to influence China on the Hong Kong dispute was for the EU to maintain “dialogue” with Beijing.

The European Union “has issued a predictably weak and equivocal declaration on China’s growing interference in Hong Kong. European leaders, apparently fearful of retaliation by Beijing, have signaled that economic interests will take priority over the EU’s much-trumpeted founding values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” Soeren Kern, a senior fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute, noted in a June 2 analysis.

The British government announced that it was considering granting citizenship to the nearly three million residents of Hong Kong. “The move infuriated China, which fears a massive brain drain from Hong Kong that would jeopardize the city’s role as a global financial and trading hub,” Kern wrote.

Pro-democracy activists and lawmakers say the new China security law, aimed at crushing political dissent, would effectively end the autonomy the city enjoys from Beijing under the “One Country, Two Systems” arrangement.

On May 28, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada issued a joint statement that reprimanded China over its approach to Hong Kong.

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