Mon. May 23rd, 2022

Beijing has accused Australia and the other Five Eyes Alliance countries of “ruthlessly ignoring the facts” in their criticism of this weekend’s elections in Hong Kong.

Candidates loyal to the ruling Chinese Socialist Party won a majority of seats in Sunday’s election after laws were changed to ensure only pro-Beijing “patriots” could run.

Advocates of overseas democracy had called for a boycott of the vote, and only about a third of those eligible to vote participated.

The Five Eyes group – which includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – was originally formed as an intelligence-sharing network, but has expanded in size over the past few years.

Secretary of State Marise Payne on Monday issued a joint statement on behalf of the group, expressing “serious concern about the erosion of democratic elements” in Hong Kong’s electoral system.

“Actions that undermine Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy threaten our common desire to see Hong Kong succeed,” the statement said.

The election had reversed a trend towards different political views in Hong Kong, after the changes in the electoral system “eliminated any meaningful political opposition”, it states.

“Meanwhile, many of the city’s opposition politicians – especially the majority of ‘NSL 47’ – remain in prison awaiting trial, while others are in exile abroad,” it said.

The Embassy of the People's Republic of China was opened in 1990. Yarralumla, Canberra, 2017.
The statement was published on the official website of the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.(ABC News: Dylan Anderson)

The Chinese embassy in Australia on Tuesday issued a highly worded statement, saying that Beijing “strongly opposed and strongly condemned the joint statement”.

The embassy said the Five Eyes countries had “ruthlessly ignored the facts and turned the truth around and deliberately interfered in China’s internal affairs” in relation to Hong Kong.

“This Legco election is fair, just, open, secure and pure, and the democratic rights of the electorate are fully respected and protected. It is widely supported by all communities in Hong Kong society,” it said.

The embassy said Hong Kong was “China’s Hong Kong” and Beijing knew best how to ensure its prosperity and stability.

“Facts have once again proved that all attempts by certain countries to interfere in Hong Kong’s politics, interfere in China’s internal affairs and hinder China’s development are in vain and doomed to failure,” the statement said.

“In recent years, the Australian side has gone to great lengths to hype its opposition to so-called ‘foreign interference’, while in the meantime they have constantly found various excuses for meddling violently in China’s internal affairs, fully revealing its hypocritical nature of ” hypocritical”.

“China strongly urges the Australian side to reflect on itself and stop undermining the stability and development of other countries under any pretext.”

Carrie Lam speaks to the media in Hong Kong
Carrie Lam said she was “satisfied” with the parliamentary election.(AP: Vincent Yu)

At a news conference on Monday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she was “satisfied” with the turnout, even though it was the lowest since the British surrendered Hong Kong to China in 1997.

Under the new laws, the number of directly elected politicians was reduced from 35 to 20, although the Legislative Assembly was expanded from 70 to 90 seats.

Most of the politicians were appointed by predominantly pro-Beijing bodies, which ensured that they constitute the majority of the Legislative Assembly.

All candidates were also examined by a predominantly pro-Beijing committee before they could be nominated.

Overseas pro-democracy activists, including London-based Nathan Law, called for a boycott of the vote, saying the election was undemocratic.

Under the new election laws, incentives to boycott the vote or cast invalid votes could be punished by up to three years in prison and a $ 200,000 ($ 36,500) fine.

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