14:09 GMT12 April 2021
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    The statement comes as a major diplomatic row has worsened between London and Beijing, initiated by China introducing a National Security Law for Hong Kong, which came into force on 30 June 2020, and exacerbated by electoral reforms in late February aimed at strengthening Beijing's control in the special administrative region.

    UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab slammed China's electoral changes relating to Hong Kong on Thursday, stating that Beijing was attempting to "hollow out" democratic processes in the special administrative region.

    The electoral reforms would cut 117 district councillor seats in Hong Kong's legislative body and replace them with "patriotic" pro-Beijing lawmakers.

    “This is the latest step by Beijing to hollow out the space for democratic debate in Hong Kong, contrary to the promises made by China itself. This can only further undermine confidence and trust in China living up to its international responsibilities and legal obligations as a leading member of the international community," Raab said in a statement.

    The news comes as Chinese lawmakers unanimously voted 2,895-0 on Thursday to change Hong Kong's electoral system.

    According to The Daily Telegraph, the UK government was reviewing changes to determine whether the measures breach the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

    The news comes after clashes with the British ambassador to China, Caroline Wilson, who published an article on social media about press freedom which has provoked anger in Beijing.

    Chinese officials later summoned the envoy because of the matter and blocked the post from being shared on social media.

    Raab made similar statements to the 46th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) - which started on 22 February and runs until 22 March - where he urged the international body to conduct an inquiry into alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

    Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam pledged "staunch support" for the electoral reforms in a statement, adding that the measures are aimed at strengthening the "One Country, Two Systems" policy which is designed to get the region "back on the right track".

     

    Tags:
    Xinjiang, Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, Carrie Lam, statement, Dominic Raab, Hong Kong national security law, Beijing, Hong Kong, China
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