Speech in the European Parliament Debate on Article 23

Mr. Gebhardt MEP (PSE):

"Ms President! Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region (SAR) government’s decision to publish a Consultation Document, discussing their proposition for an anti-subversion law in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law, caused a tremendous uproar and deep apprehension not only in Hong Kong, but also here in the European Parliament.

We hear not only what Hong Kong’s religious groups, but also Hong Kong’s economists, press and journalists are telling us, and we must take these concerns very seriously. These concerns clearly tell us that the opposition will be silenced, that freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to publish and the right of assembly, as well as the right and the freedom to form labour unions are no longer guaranteed. Our suspicions are real and we cannot ignore them, because all of the before-mentioned rights are civil rights we all enjoy and take for granted, and we unconditionally state that we will also defend these basic values in China.

For that reason we demand that the People’s Republic of China respects Hong Kong’s autonomy, an autonomy discussed by those who spoke before me, and were based on the much-vaunted “one country, two systems” concept. There is not doubt in my mind! This system must be respected! I call upon China to respect the “one country, two systems” I call upon China to guarantee that Hong Kong’s right to make its own laws, and not to exert undue pressure to limit these fundamental rights and liberties."

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