The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region:
“The historical and people-to-people ties that bind Canada and Hong Kong are deep and diverse.
“From across the Pacific, Canada witnessed the historic return of Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, to Chinese sovereignty and the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Canada has closely followed the events that have shaped the Special Administrative Region over the last 25 years and have led to this milestone.
“Hong Kong was the first place Canadians fought a land battle in the Second World War. Today, over half a million Hong Kong residents call Canada home and an estimated 300,000 Canadians reside in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is also one of Canada’s most important bilateral trade and investment partners, a fact confirmed by the presence of over 100 notable Canadian companies in the territory. These direct ties and the universal values we share enrich our societies and unite us.
“As we mark this important date, Canada urges the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong authorities to adhere fully to the One Country, Two Systems framework set out in Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which also took effect 25 years ago. Regrettably, since the imposition of the National Security Law (NSL) on Hong Kong on 30 June 2020, and over the past two years, we have seen freedom of speech and the peaceful expression of alternative views suppressed. Implementation of the NSL has eliminated meaningful political opposition. NGOs, trade unions and human rights organisations have disbanded or departed. Media freedoms continue to be eroded, following the closure of Apple Daily, Stand News and other independent media outlets.
“We call on Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to act in accordance with international obligations they willingly undertook 25 years ago. The high degree of autonomy provided under the Basic Law and China’s commitment to respect the rule of law and to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms is as essential today for the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong as they were when committed to in 1997. They will continue to be so tomorrow and for the next 25 years and beyond.”