The European Parliament adopted a new resolution on July 8 to condemn the communist Chinese regime’s “unprecedented” crackdown of freedom in Hong Kong, calling for a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympics in response to human rights abuses.
The urgent resolution was passed by overwhelming majority support in Strasbourg, France, on Thursday, with 578 in favor, 29 against, and 73 abstentions.
Amid the tension between the communist Chinese regime and the EU, the non-binding resolution shows the prevailing mood in the Parliament to the European Commission and the Council of the EU.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) condemn “in the strongest terms” the forced closure of Hong Kong’s vocal pro-democracy newspaper, the Apple Daily, calling it to release detained journalists and pro-democracy protesters “immediately and unconditionally” and stop harassing and intimating media and journalist, according to the resolution.
The 28-point resolution also called for governments to impose further sanctions, decline invitations to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, and provide emergency visas to help journalists and activists who fled from the city to resettle.
Apple Daily printed its last edition on June 24 after its assets were frozen and executives were arrested under the Beijing-imposed national security law (NSL) following Hong Kong police’s mass raid of its headquarters. Its founder, media tycoon Jimmy Lai, is serving a 20-month term for his involvement in pro-democracy protests of 2019.
MEPs criticized NSL as “a comprehensive assault on the city’s high degree of autonomy, rule of law and fundamental freedoms.”
“Over the course of one year, the law was applied to completely dismantle Hong Kong’s free society on almost all fronts … completely transforming Hong Kong’s political and legal landscape and stifling freedom of the press and free expression of opinions,” said the statement.
The sweeping NSL came into effect on June 30, 2020, criminalizing vaguely defined charges as subversion, secession, and collusion with foreign forces.
Considering the NSL “completely violates” the “one country, two systems” rule, MEPs called EU members to “address the NSL as a top priority on the agenda of all EU-China meetings.”
The communist regime had agreed to let the city control internal affairs through its political structure under the “one country, two systems” approach for 50 years when the sovereignty of the former British colonial city was handed over to China on July 1, 1997.
They urged the EU and 27 member states to implement a “lifeboat scheme” to help pro-democratic activists and political leaders to live and work in respective countries and offer emergency travel documents for journalists, as the human rights conditions deteriorate in the city.
It pointed out that 128 people had been arrested under the NSL and 64 people formally charged, of whom 47 are currently in pre-trial detention.
The resolution called for governments to decline invitations to government representatives and diplomats to attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, “unless the Chinese Government demonstrates a verifiable improvement in the human rights situation in Hong Kong.”
“We must not make ourselves a symbol of the communist’s hand,” said German MEP Engin Eroglu in Brussels, who had pushed for the boycott of the Beijing Olympics.
“We will not stop talking about these issues here in this House as long as Hongkongers have to fight for their freedom,” he said before ending the remark.
Very happy that our #HongKong / #AppleDaily resolution got approved by a huge majority!💪 You can rewatch my speech from this morning in the plenary of the @Europarl_EN below, in which I urged my colleaugues to also #StandWithHongKong and vote in favour of this resolution✅ pic.twitter.com/DF6JoXVj3C
— Engin Eroglu (@EnginEroglu_FW) July 8, 2021
Slovakia MEP Miriam Lexmann said on Thursday, “the CCP is engaging in the worst human rights since the Tiananmen Square Massacre.”
“The free world cannot stand by and so, on the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party, in words as in deeds, let us send a strong message: that we stand with the people of Hong Kong, we stand with all the victims of CCP terror and oppression, and with freedom-loving people everywhere,” she continued.
To end the human rights violations, MEPs claimed more targeted measures, like sanctions if necessary, will be imposed to address the repression in the far-western Xinjiang region and Hong Kong.
The EU had suspended the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment in May, after tit-for-tat sanctions imposed over the human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.
They recommended designating July 1 as ‘Stand with Hong Kong Day’ to raise awareness of the situation in Hong Kong.
The EU also welcomes cooperation with democratic allies like the United States to halt the erosion of Hong Kong’s freedom and support the democracy in Taiwan.
The UK Labour Party, the main opposition party in the country, called on the government and royal family to boycott the 2022 Olympics on July 6, over the “systematic persecution” of Uyghurs if Beijing refuses to allow a thorough investigation.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would “certainly consider” a diplomatic boycott of the event on July 7.
The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) mouthpiece, Global Times, slammed the full-blown push, threatening “whoever sanctions China over Hong Kong will receive relentless retaliation” on July 9.