Brussels [Belgium], February 24 (ANI): The European Union has escalated its condemnation of Beijing's political crackdown under the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong but stopped short of rolling out major sanctions on the city's officials for the continued repression of opposition figures.
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), Hong Kong was high on the agenda of the meeting of the EU's Foreign Affairs Council, comprising the bloc's 27 foreign ministers and senior EU officials, with Brussels' top diplomat, Josep Borrell, on Monday referring a situation in the city that "keeps deteriorating".
At a press conference after the meeting, Borrell confirmed the agreement on a "two-step process" that will be added to the previous response package to the national security law imposed on Hong Kong last summer, which was rolled out last July.
"The first step involves measures designed to increase support to civil society, including coordination with like-minded parties and outreach to relevant authorities," Borrell said, as quoted by SCMP.
Further steps will be taken in case of "further deterioration in the situation, such as aggressive reform of the electoral process in Hong Kong or further erosion of the independence of the judiciary", Borrell added without specifying what the steps might be.
Borrell also welcomed the involvement of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who joined the last two hours of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), earmarking China and Russia as potential areas for collaboration.
"We discussed opportunities and challenges in relations with China and Russia, which are the two poles with respect, we have to face the most important challenges," Borrell said.
SCMP reported that Before the meeting, senior EU officials had warned about Hong Kong's "deteriorating" situation, in reference to "internal freedom", while a non-paper - an unofficial diplomatic note - had been circulated among member states proposing new measures in response to the situation.
China imposed the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong last year. The law criminalises secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms. It came into effect from July 1. Since then, a number of former pro-democracy lawmakers have been arrested. (ANI)