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Canada, Five Eyes allies express concerns over expulsion of Hong Kong lawmakers

Empty seats of pro-democracy legislators, top right, are seen at Legislative Chamber in Hong Kong, Thursday day, Nov. 12, 2020. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers announced Wednesday they would resign en masse after four of them were ousted from the semiautonomous Chinese territory's Legislature in a move one legislator said could sound the “death knell” for democracy there. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Canada and its Five Eyes allies — the U.K., the U.S., New Zealand and Australia — are expressing their “serious concern” after China imposed new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong, saying the move is part of a “concerted campaign to silence all critical voices.”

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, the countries’ foreign affairs ministers called on China to “stop undermining the right of the people of Hong Kong” to elect their representatives.

Read more: Tory motion calling for action on Huawei, plan to combat Chinese aggression passes

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The statement comes after 15 pro-democracy lawmakers resigned en masse last week after Beijing passed a resolution that resulted in the disqualification of four of its members from the legislature.

The remaining lawmakers are expected to stay on until Dec. 1, however, the resignations leave the body with virtually no opposition voice.

Read more: Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers to resign en masse after 4 colleagues ousted

In the statement, the Five Eyes allies said the imposition of the new rules “further undermines Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms.”

“The disqualification rules appear part of a concerted campaign to silence all critical voices following the postponement of September’s Legislative Council elections, the imposition of charges against a number of elected legislators, and actions to undermine the freedom of Hong Kong’s vibrant media,” the statement reads.

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The ministers said the rules are a “clear breach” of China’s international obligations under the “legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

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The allies said it is “essential” that channels that allow Hong Kong people to express their “legitimate concerns and opinions” be respected.

“We urge the Chinese central authorities to reconsider their actions against Hong Kong’s elected legislature and immediately reinstate the Legislative Council members,” the statement reads.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Canadian House of Commons passed a Conservative motion calling for a decision on whether to allow Chinese company Huawei into the country’s 5G networks, and a plan on combatting aggression from China.

–With a file from Reuters. 

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