China accuses Five Eyes of “violent interference” in criticism of legislative elections in Hong Kong

Beijing accused Australia and the rest of the Five Eyes Alliance of “recklessly ignoring the facts” in their criticism of this weekend’s Hong Kong election.

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

Democracy advocates abroad had called for a boycott of the poll, and only about a third of eligible voters participated.

The Five Eyes Group – which includes the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – was originally formed as an intelligence-sharing network, but has expanded its reach to in recent years.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Monday issued a joint statement on behalf of the group, expressing “grave concern at 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 wish for Hong Kong to succeed,” the statement said.

The elections turned the tide of political diversity in Hong Kong after changes to the electoral system “wiped out any significant political opposition,” he said.

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

The statement was posted on the official website of the Chinese Embassy in Canberra.(ABC News: Dylan Anderson)

The Chinese Embassy in Australia on Tuesday issued a firm statement saying Beijing “strongly opposed and strongly condemned the joint statement.”

The embassy said the Five Eyes countries have “recklessly ignored the facts and reversed the truth, and interfered without cause in China’s internal affairs” with respect to Hong Kong.

“This Legco election is fair, equitable, open, safe and clean, and the democratic rights of voters are fully respected and protected. It is widely supported by all communities in Hong Kong society,” he said.

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

“The facts have once again proved that all attempts by some countries to interfere in Hong Kong politics, interfere in China’s internal affairs and hamper China’s development are futile and doomed to destruction. ‘failure,’ the statement read.

“In recent years, the Australian side has gone out of its way to exaggerate its opposition to so-called ‘foreign interference’, while constantly finding various excuses to violently interfere in China’s internal affairs, which fully reveals its hypocritical nature of “double standards”.

“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 media in Hong Kong
Carrie Lam declared herself “satisfied” with the legislative elections.(AP: Vincent Yu)

In a press conference on Monday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she was “happy” with voter 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 has increased from 35 to 20, even as the legislature has grown from 70 to 90 seats.

Most of the politicians have been appointed by largely pro-Beijing bodies, ensuring that they constitute the majority of the legislature.

All the candidates were also reviewed by a largely pro-Beijing committee before they could be nominated.

Pro-democracy activists abroad, including London-based Nathan Law, called for a boycott of the vote, saying the elections were undemocratic.

Under the new election laws, incitement to boycott the ballot or cast invalid votes could be punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of HK $ 200,000. ($ 36,500).

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