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The Hong Kong Legislative Council Elections 2021 - A Political Farce

Engin Eroglu

Elections to the Hong Kong Legislative Council were held on 19 December last year. These were the first elections since the changes made under the so-called "patriot" electoral law. These changes drastically reduced the number of directly elected seats to only 20 out of 90, whereas previously half of the Legislative Council seats were directly elected. In addition, candidates first had to be vetted by government officials. Moreover, only three of the 153 candidates for the Legislative Council even ran with a pro-democracy profile. With the subsequent result of only 30 per cent voter turnout, it can be said today that an election in Hong Kong has never been as lacking in legitimacy as this one. The Legislative Council elections can thus be assessed as nothing more than a political farce and another grim milestone in the Chinese government's oppression of Hong Kong.

It was a milestone of which the people of Hong Kong have unfortunately experienced so many since the introduction of the National Security Act. As such, the elections were also the first to be held since the National Security Act was passed in June 2020. This law has since rapidly restricted the space for legitimate and free exchange of views and eliminated any meaningful opposition to the government. This has included not only the disqualification of dozens of opposition MPs, the forced closure of the pro-democracy newspapers Apple Daily, Stand News and Citizen News, the dissolution of the city's largest teachers' union, the dissolution of more than 50 civil society groups, but also the arrest of 154 people who have been awaiting trial for almost a year and have been repeatedly denied bail.

The 2021 Hong Kong Legislative Council elections have thus once again shown the extent to which the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities are deliberately trying to destroy the city's democracy. Hong Kong's former autonomy and people's freedoms and democratic way of life are increasingly being buried under flimsy laws.

The European Parliament's resolution on Hong Kong adopted this month is an important step against this backdrop, as the EU shares responsibility with the international community to hold the Chinese government accountable for these blatant violations of international law and human rights. Unfortunately, it remains the case that all too often the Commission and the Council do not even put the fate of the people of Hong Kong on the agenda and Member States block each other in the Council. This is simply unacceptable, because for years we have been watching democracy being eroded in Hong Kong. This makes it all the more important that we in the European Parliament do everything in our power to take a clear stand. Concrete steps that we have already demanded several times as parliamentarians, such as a lifeboat policy for Hong Kongers, the extension of sanctions, the diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Games, the end of the extradition treaties with China and Hong Kong - all this must now finally be put into practice.

MEPs from different political camps have joined forces for the Parliament's resolution. This shows us that it is possible to overcome differences and it should serve as an example for decision-making in the Council and Commission. What is happening in Hong Kong is not a question of political ideologies, but of the protection of fundamental rights, an issue that concerns us all.

Engin Eroglu
EDP MEP