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NZ expresses concern over Hong Kong legislation


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

3 July 2003

NZ expresses concern over Hong Kong legislation

Foreign Minister Phil Goff today expressed concern that legislation currently before the Hong Kong Legislative Council could put at risk the local freedoms and autonomy guaranteed under Hong Kong's Basic Law.

"When Hong Kong was reunified with China in 1997, it was given a special status enshrined in the Basic Law's principle of one country, two systems. This was seen as a guarantee of the territory's autonomy and protection of human and civil rights," Mr Goff said.

"However legislation currently before Hong Kong’s Legislative Council dealing with treason, sedition, succession and subversion, as mandated under Article 23 of the Basic Law, could put those rights at risk.

"In particular, section 8A of the legislation creates concerns. This enables the Hong Kong government to proscribe or ban organisations that are banned on the mainland.

"Fears have been raised that this may lead to the banning of organisations such as Falun Gong, which is outlawed in the Peoples' Republic of China.

"There are also concerns that the legislation provides no public interest defence to protect freedom of expression and the press.

"The legislation, due to be passed as early as next week, has caused anxiety and major public demonstrations in Hong Kong this week as well as expressions of concern from many countries in the international community.

"New Zealand urges the Legislative Council to adopt amendments to address these concerns before the legislation is passed into law.

"This would alleviate fears that the principle of one country, two systems is being eroded and that the freedom of association and expression may be at risk," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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