China's parliament approved on Thursday a draft decision to change Hong Kong's electoral system, further reducing democratic representation in the city's institutions and introducing a mechanism to vet politicians' loyalty to Beijing.
"Australia and New Zealand have always wanted Hong Kong to succeed, given its role as a significant hub for finance, trade, and our communities overseas".
China's plans for electoral reform in Hong Kong, coupled with the imposition of a security law, amount to a "combination of punches" to quell unrest in the southern city, a top Beijing official said Friday.
"The European Union regrets that the fundamental freedoms, democratic principles and the political pluralism that are central to Hong Kong's identity and prosperity are under increasing pressure by the authorities", EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday in a statement on behalf of the 27-nation bloc.
He concluded he didn't understand how the U.S. politicians could take the moral high ground in criticising China's Hong Kong affairs, adding Beijing was "deeply proud" of being sanctioned by Washington, he concluded according to the report.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was swift to condemn Thursday's move as "contrary to the promises made by China itself" and warned that would "only further undermine confidence and trust in China living up to its global responsibilities and legal obligations, as a leading member of the worldwide community".
"China is consciously dismantling the "One Country, Two Systems" principle in violation of its worldwide commitments and the Hong Kong Basic Law", EU High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said. Once known for its vibrant media and bold challenges to the establishment, including holding the title as the only place in China to commemorate victims of the bloody 1989 crackdown on the pro-democracy movement centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, Hong Kong is now coming under same authoritarian Communist Party strictures in place throughout China. Victoria Tin-bor Hui, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, took a similar view, telling AFP: "The new electoral arrangements will make sure that there is no chance for any pro-democracy figure to run in elections and get elected at all".
"Basically, it's a step backwards, becoming more and more like the mainland", he said.
But another resident, identified as Ho, said she supported the law.
"Hong Kong has already returned [to China]".
The Chinese government has since cracked down on the opposition, arresting dozens of activists and smothering the street movement with a draconian national security law.