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Japan's EU Ambassador: Hong Kong was promised "two systems"

Japan is concerned about China's actions in Hong Kong: the latter was promised "one country, two systems" based on liberal values ​​in 1997, the Japanese ambassador to the EU, Kazuo Kodama, recalled in a telephone interview with

At that time, “an important agreement was reached between the UK and China”: “China undertook that the concept of“ one country, two systems ”would prevail in the Hong Kong region. It was clear to us that the Hong Kong way of life would be preserved, that liberalism and the independence of the judiciary as well as freedom of speech and the press would be preserved, as these values ​​are protected in the US, Europe and Japan, ”said the Japanese ambassador .

But he added: "Based on what is being discussed at the People's Congress in Beijing, we are very concerned about China's behavior in Hong Kong."

Background: When the United Kingdom handed over the Hong Kong region to China in 1997, the constitutional principle of “one country, two systems” was agreed, granting Hong Kong certain freedoms as well as judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years.

However, this morning (June 30), China passed a controversial national security law for the autonomous city in absolute secrecy and bypassing the Hong Kong parliament.

This law had caused a lot of excitement in the West in the past few days.

The "end of Hong Kong"

According to the news agency AFP the law is a "historic step" that many Western governments fear will stifle the freedoms of Asia's major financial center and undermine its autonomy.

This is actually quite conceivable: In mainland China, national security laws are commonly used to imprison critics, especially on the basis of the vague criminal offense of "subversion".

The US, UK, EU and UN have already expressed concern about Chinese law, which they believe is aimed at suppressing voices critical of Beijing’s policies.

The security law marks nothing less than “the end of Hong Kong as the world knew it before. With far-reaching powers and an unclear law, the city will turn into a secret police state, "tweeted well-known Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong earlier this morning.

Growing influence

In view of the ongoing power struggle between the US and China over future world politics, Japanese diplomat Kodama told EURACTIV that Beijing appeared to be ready for this "game".

In this regard, Kodama reiterated that Japan, the EU and the US, unlike China, have committed to advocating liberal-democratic values: “We live democracy and hold general elections; and we have attached great importance to the concept of individual rights. "

Meanwhile, a new survey by the German Marshall Fund, the Bertelsmann Foundation, and the Institut Montaigne, published today, found that China's (perceived) influence in Europe and the United States has apparently grown in the wake of the pandemic.

According to the survey, in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the percentage of US, German and French citizens who consider China to be the most influential country in the world has doubled (to 14 percent in the US and 20 percent in Germany and 28 percent in France).

However, this does not mean that Europeans rate China's growing influence positively: German and French participants in the study would therefore welcome it if their respective governments take a tougher stance towards Beijing on various issues such as climate change, human rights or trade would lay.

Confront China over trade

Kodama recalled that China has seen remarkable and sustained growth for more than two decades that has made the Chinese people significantly more affluent.

In his opinion, China now finally needs a free, transparent and fairer trading system: "One of the serious challenges between China and the rest of the free world is that there is no real reciprocity." There is no regulation that is non-Chinese Allowing companies to "do business and invest in China [...] while Chinese companies in Europe and Japan enjoy more freedom."

In this context, the Japanese ambassador also praised the fact that the EU had consistently reminded the Chinese side of this reciprocity in trade relations and investments: “It is important that the EU and Japan move closer together on these issues and hopefully the USA on board bring - and ultimately also include China and convince [the Chinese leadership]. "

[Edited by Benjamin Fox and Tim Steins]

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