PM urged to defend Hong Kong freedoms

25 May PM urged to defend Hong Kong freedoms

Andrew Tillet – Australian Financial Review – Saturday 23 May 2020

China hawks within the Morrison government are pushing ministers to take a tough line with Beijing after it moved to cement its control over Hong Kong in what looms as the latest flashpoint in the bilateral relationship.

Victorian Liberal Senator James Paterson said pro-democracy Hong Kong legislators told him they believed China’s move to implement security powers didn’t just end the one country, two systems policy but Hong Kong as people know it.

“My friends in Hong Kong have been asking for Australia to speak up, to be loud about this, to make sure the world notices this,” he told Sky News.

“We cannot allow this to slip under the cloud of COVID-19. We can’t allow Beijing to use that as a crisis to get away with what they’re doing here.”

Senator Paterson did not advocate using trade against China but said the regime’s moves bolstered the need for Magnitskystyle laws that would allow individuals involved in breaching human rights or international law to be targeted.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who was vocal in supporting the rights of the prodemocracy protesters last year, was yet to respond to China’s announcement.

Deputy PM Michael McCormack said Australia wanted to see the one country, two systems policy retained but it was ultimately up to Beijing.

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