China no longer compliant with Hong Kong joint declaration: Britain

Chinese, left, and Hong Kong flags are displayed outside the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong, China, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. A week into demonstrations in Hong Kong notable for their order and endurance, protesters came under attack from opponents, highlighting the fault lines of a city torn between commercial interests and a desire for greater democracy. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

China is now no longer compliant with Hong Kong’s joint declaration after Beijing announced sweeping changes to the region’s electoral system, the United Kingdom said Saturday.

“Beijing’s decision to impose radical changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system constitutes a further clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was quoted as saying in a statement.

“The U.K. now considers Beijing to be in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” the statement from the ministry said.

China’s parliament approved on Thursday a draft decision to change Hong Kong’s electoral system, further reducing democratic representation in the city’s institutions and introducing a mechanism to vet politicians’ loyalty to Beijing.

The changes would give a largely pro-Beijing Election Committee the responsibility of nominating all members of Hong Kong’s legislature and directly electing some lawmakers to ensure that Hong Kong is administered by “patriots” and exclude “anti-China” forces from holding key roles in governance.

The 1,500-member Election Committee will pick the territory’s chief executive and an unspecified “relatively large” number of its 90-seat legislature. The revision has prompted concern that the proportion of directly elected lawmakers will be reduced.

The United States, the European Union and the Group of Seven (G-7) also expressed grave concerns at what they said was China’s decision to fundamentally erode democratic elements of the electoral system in Hong Kong.