EU to restrict exports to Hong Kong over security law
A man walks past a poster for the National Security Law in Hong Kong on July 28, 2020. The European Union will restrict exports to Hong Kong of equipment that could be used for surveillance and repression after Beijing imposed a controversial new security law, diplomatic sources said on July 28.
AFP/Anthony Wallace
EU to restrict exports to Hong Kong over security law
(Agence France-Presse) - July 29, 2020 - 9:43am

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union on Tuesday agreed to limit exports to Hong Kong of equipment that could be used for surveillance and repression after Beijing imposed a controversial new security law. 

The bloc voiced "grave concern" over the new law, saying it would severely erode freedoms in Hong Kong that were supposed to be protected under the terms of its handover from Britain to China.

The EU has struggled to agree a united response to China. Member states deeply divided over whether to stand up to Beijing -- a hugely important trading partner -- or to try to cooperate with it.

But following a proposal by France and Germany, the 27 member states on Tuesday agreed to limit exports to Hong Kong of technology that could be used for "internal repression, the interception of internal communications or cyber-surveillance".

"The EU considers the national security legislation for Hong Kong... to be a matter of grave concern," said a statement from the EU council, where all member states' leaders have a seat.

"The EU is particularly concerned about the extensive erosion of rights and freedoms that were supposed to remain protected until at least 2047."

Along with the export restriction, the EU will also bring in measures to support the population of the former British colony, granting visas, scholarships and academic exchanges to make it easier for them to travel to Europe, diplomats said. 

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that with the new security law in place, "It makes sense to treat Hong Kong no differently from mainland China" when it comes to the export of equipment that can be used for repression.

Beijing on Tuesday announced the suspension of extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain, following similar moves by those countries over the new law.

Hong Kong's former colonial ruler Britain suspended its extradition treaty last week saying the security law had "significantly changed key assumptions" including a provision to try certain cases in mainland China.

Beijing insists the security law is needed to restore stability in the financial hub after prolonged political unrest.

CHINA EUROPEAN UNION HONG KONG
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 16, 2020 - 7:00pm

Millions march in Hong Kong in a powerful rebuke of an extradition law feared to expose them to China's capricious justice system.

October 16, 2020 - 7:00pm

A top Chinese diplomat warns Canada against granting asylum to Hong Kong democracy protesters, adding that doing so could jeopardize the "health and safety" of Canadians living in the southern Chinese financial hub.

The remarks by Cong Peiwu, Beijing's Ottawa envoy, prompted a rebuke from Canada's foreign minister, further escalating tensions between the two countries.

Cong was responding to reports that a Hong Kong couple who took part in last year's huge and sometimes violent protests had been granted refugee status. — AFP

October 1, 2020 - 4:23pm

Hong Kong's leader Thursday hailed her city's "return to peace" after China imposed a security law that helped suppress a pro-democracy movement, as just a handful of people defied a heavy police presence and protested during National Day celebrations.

The People's Republic of China celebrates its founding on October 1 with a holiday and carefully choreographed festivities.

But in Hong Kong, it has become a day of grievance for those worried about authoritarian Beijing's intensifying crackdown against its opponents.

Protest has been effectively outlawed for most of this year and Beijing also imposed a strict national security law on the semi-autonomous business hub in June. — AFP

September 24, 2020 - 7:56pm

The European Union on Thursday criticised the arrest of prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, saying it was "troubling" and undermined trust in China.

The 23-year-old's detention for for "unlawful assembly" over a 2019 demonstration comes after China imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong in late June.

"The arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong on 24 September is the latest in a troubling series of arrests of pro-democracy activists since the summer," an EU spokesperson said, calling for "very careful scrutiny" by the judiciary.

"Developments in Hong Kong call into question China's will to uphold its international commitments, undermine trust and impact EU-China relations."

The EU has repeatedly voiced concern at the new Hong Kong security law, which critics say erodes important freedoms in the city. — AFP

September 16, 2020 - 6:24pm

A Swiss photographer who closed a door on a Chinese mainlander moments before he was assaulted during last year's Hong Kong democracy protests should not be held responsible for the attack, his lawyers argued Wednesday.

Marc Progin, a long-time Hong Kong resident, is facing up to a year in jail for "aiding and abetting public disorder" over the incident in which JP Morgan employee Lin Nan was punched.

Footage of Progin closing the door moments before a masked man assaulted Lin went viral and caused widespread anger in mainland China. 

Prosecutors said Progin, 75, deliberately shut a door leading to JP Morgan's regional headquarters as an argument broke out between a crowd of pro-democracy supporters and Lin last October. 

They argued his actions effectively enabled the assault on Lin and that Progin therefore took part in the unfolding public disorder. 

Defense lawyers said Progin was simply doing his job and that he closed the door to get a better angle to capture the argument through his lens.

Defense counsel Michael Delaney said Progin had no intention to "stop, block or obstruct" Lin and that the behavior of the crowd had nothing to do with Progin. — AFP

September 15, 2020 - 3:18pm

Hong Kong activists shouted anti-government slogans outside court on Tuesday as more than two dozen high profile democracy campaigners appeared over a banned vigil to mark the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies on June 4 to mark the anniversary of Beijing's deadly suppression of students pushing for democracy.

The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the last three decades and usually attracts huge crowds, but this year's gathering was banned for the first time with authorities citing coronavirus measures — even though local transmission had largely been halted.

The group of defendants represents a broad section of the pro-democracy movement, from 72-year-old media mogul Jimmy Lai to younger campaigners such as Joshua Wong. — AFP

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