China is destroying its own international commitment to “one country, two systems”

MEP Andrius Kubilius, discussing in the plenary session of the European Parliament the debate on China’s actions in destroying Hong Kong’s democracy, stressed that China is destroying its own international “one country, two systems” commitments.

“Yesterday and today, the European Parliament addressed China’s unacceptable behaviour. This time, a special European Parliament resolution was debated to address the fundamental violations of human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong,” said the MEP, “It is clear that the situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating very rapidly and tragically. I will not name all the individual facts that the resolution deals with. Still, the resolution, both in its content and in its specific wording, states the obvious fact: China is breaking, in the most flagrant manner, its own commitments to the international community, under the famous formula of “one country, two systems”, that Hong Kong’s democracy, which has been built up during the long years of British rule, will continue to be protected by the Chinese Government.

This is the Chinese Government’s commitment to the international community and to the British Government when the British handed over Hong Kong to Beijing in 1997. This principle meant that despite Hong Kong becoming part of the whole of China, ruled by authoritarian communist Beijing, Hong Kong’s democratic system of governance would retain its autonomy, with democratic elections, freedom of speech and the independence of the legal system. From 1997 to 2019, the Beijing authorities had honoured this commitment, according to a report by the offices of MEPs Kubilius, Juknevičienė and Mažylis.

According to Mr Kubilius, Hong Kong’s democratic self-government has been severely eroded since 2019.

“It is precisely this change in the behaviour of the Chinese authorities, their cynical refusal to honour the international commitments they have made, and the persecution of the Uighurs and Tibetans, that is leading to an increasingly critical attitude towards relations with China, which has recently been expressed more and more loudly, not only in the United States Congress but also in the European Parliament. This change in the behaviour of the Chinese authorities is also causing increasing concern about the future of Taiwan’s democracy and sovereignty. Because no one can believe the promises, China has made about Taiwan anymore either. This is why the attention on Taiwan in the West is growing very fast: the change in Chinese behaviour is the main reason for this,” the MEP is quoted as saying in the press release.

According to Mr Kubilius, although the resolution is aimed at Hong Kong, Lithuania’s name came up very often in the Parliament’s debates. This is because China’s economic pressure on Lithuania is seen as an encroachment on the fundamental principles of the European Union’s Single Market’s. Therefore, the European Parliament supports Lithuania and clarifies that the European Union does not have the right to continue to tolerate China’s aggressive pressure on Lithuania or any other Member State of the Community, nor on the European Union as a whole.

“China’s attempts to use the weight of its large market to squeeze a commitment from individual EU countries or the wider democratic world not to criticise China’s unacceptable behaviour or to develop cooperation with Taiwan are coming under increasingly harsh criticism. If China does not change its behaviour, Sino-Western relations could become extremely antagonistic towards the end of this decade, with significant repercussions for economic relations. This should be borne in mind when projecting the longer-term future, including for Lithuanian business,” said Mr Kubilius.

The resolution on China’s unacceptable behaviour in Hong Kong also reiterates China’s pressure on Lithuania: “China is using aggressive rhetoric and, without explanation and without announcement, has started to impose a de facto ban, which prevents the entry of Lithuanian-made goods into the Chinese market. These actions and practices, which have no basis in law, violate not only all international and World Trade Organisation trade rules but also have a direct impact on the core principles of the EU’s single market.”

With this resolution, the EP “condemns China’s coercion and intimidation of Lithuania; welcomes the recent statements of solidarity with Lithuania to counter China’s coercive actions; urges the EU to defend the fundamental principles of the Single Market against China’s intimidation.”

The Parliament calls on EU institutions: the Commission, the Council and the Member States to work with international partners to help preserve democracy in Taiwan, especially in the light of the recent developments by the Chinese Government on the relationship between Lithuania and Taiwan, and the destruction of freedoms in Hong Kong as a result of China’s policy changes to move away from the ‘one country, two systems approach.

MEP Andrius Kubilius, discussing the debate in Parliament’s plenary session on China’s actions in destroying Hong Kong’s democracy, stressed that China itself is destroying its own international commitment to “one country, two systems”.


More than 40 MEPs call on EU leaders to take joint action on China’s economic and political coercion against Lithuania

On Tuesday, more than 40 MEPs from various groups addressed the leaders of the European Union – EC President Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Council Charles Michel, High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell – and the European Commissioners on the political and economic coercion of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) against Lithuania. They urged the EU to take concerted action.

The signatories include MEPs from Slovakia, Germany, France, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Hungary and other countries.

” The aggressive rhetoric of PRC officials, as well as the unexplained and undeclared measures which de facto constitute sanctions that ban Lithuanian-made products from entering the Chinese market are deplorable. Such unlegislated actions and practices violate not only all international and WTO rules of trade, but also directly impact underlying principles of the EU Single Market, and that is why they must be addressed by the European Union jointly.

Moreover, this is not the first time the PRC has been using coercive behaviour against the EU Member State, as demonstrated by the pressure applied on the President of the Czech Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, in connection to his visit to Taiwan, and numerous cases before.

The MEPs state in their appeal that ‘We refuse any form of pressure and condemn threats regarding the independent right of countries to develop a relationship with Taiwan in line with their national interests and shared values of democracy and human rights without foreign interference.

The recent decision of Lithuania and Taiwan to exchange representative offices do not themselves signify anything extraordinary, nor do they challenge the One China policy,” the MPs write.

The appeal recalls that ‘in the European Parliament Recommendation of 21 October 2021 on EU-Taiwan political relations and cooperation, the European Parliament urged to “encourage increased economic, scientific, cultural, political and people-to-people exchanges, meetings and cooperation between the EU and Taiwan, and exchanges with the participation of Member State representatives, including at the most senior levels, so as to fully reflect the dynamic, multi-faceted and close cooperation between the EU and Taiwan as like-minded partners.”

The European Parliament “welcomes the plans to establish a Taiwanese representative office in Lithuania; to condemn the reaction of the Chinese government to impose economic sanctions on Lithuania; to express its support and solidarity with Lithuania in this matter, to take appropriate measures and to urge the Council to do the same.”

The MEPs also stress that ” these unexplained coercive measures of the PRC against Lithuania and the EU are taking place in a context of increasing PRC aggression against neighbours and other third countries, disregard for international law and norms as witnessed in the destabilizing actions in the South China Sea and breaching of the Sino-British Declaration, as well as the dire human rights situation across mainland China and Hong Kong.”

MEPs are “firmly convinced that failing to respond to the PRC’s actions would embolden it to engage in further coercion against Lithuania or any other EU Member States in the future “.

This, they argue, “will also allow PRC to weaken EU unity and intensify “divide and rule” practices among the EU Member States as well as seek to diminish the EU’s role globally. Therefore, if the PRC will continue its coercive measures damaging the EU Single Market, the EU should consider responding with defensive measures vis-a-vis the PRC”.