The European Union called on Beijing on Thursday to immediately reverse new rules to disqualify elected legislators, saying the decision was a “severe blow” to the former British colony’s autonomy.
“This latest arbitrary decision from Beijing further significantly undermines Hong Kong’s autonomy under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle,” the EU’s 27 governments said in a statement.
“These latest steps constitute a further severe blow to political pluralism and freedom of opinion in Hong Kong,” the bloc said.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition lawmakers said on Wednesday they would resign in protest against the dismissal of four of their colleagues from the city assembly after Beijing gave local authorities new powers to further curb dissent.
The Chinese parliament earlier adopted a resolution allowing the city’s executive to expel lawmakers deemed to be advocating Hong Kong independence, colluding with foreign forces or threatening national security, without having to go through the courts.
Opposition members of the Hong Kong assembly say they have tried to make a stand against what many people in Hong Kong see as Beijing’s whittling away of freedoms and institutional checks and balances, despite a promise of a high degree of autonomy.
China denies curbing rights and freedoms in the global financial hub, but authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have moved swiftly to stifle dissent after anti-government protests flared in June last year and plunged the city into crisis.