Echoes of Tiananmen Square: Greens condemn China’s latest assault on democracy in Hong Kong

OTTAWA – On the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Green Party of Canada is speaking out against China’s latest move to quell Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

“Canada must stand with the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “Legal and human rights experts warn that the new National Security Law passed by the People’s National Congress last month will allow authorities to silence government critics and severely limit freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and equality before the law.

“Last year’s pro-democracy protests brought two million people onto the streets to be met with water cannon, tear gas, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition. The new National Security Law is Beijing’s bid to stamp out democracy in Hong Kong once and for all.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted Canada’s short-sighted attitude towards trade with China,” said Green Party critic for international trade and investment, Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith). “The Green Party has criticized past Liberal and Conservative governments for opening up trade and investment with China without any requirement for the Chinese government to improve human rights, the rule of law or allow for the development of democratic institutions. 

“The Harper Conservatives signed a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) with China as an Order in Council, without any debate in Parliament. This lopsided agreement gives Chinese companies, including state-owned corporations, extraordinary powers to challenge the democratic decisions of Canada’s government in private and secretive Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals. Unlike other FIPPA agreements, this one is locked in for 15 years. Under this agreement, the PRC has the ability to threaten financial penalties in secret meetings. Such pressure can be brought to bear in secret, potentially impacting our government's response to the deteriorating situation for Hong Kong.

“Canada must develop foreign investment and trade policies that protect Canadian interests from China’s aggressive trade and diplomatic tactics. Canada should follow Australia’s example and create a foreign agent registry to investigate foreign influence on Canadian public and private institutions. Many Chinese-Canadian citizens who support the pro-democracy movement have reported increased influence and interference from the Chinese state here in Canada.”

“As we witness a new round of protests by pro-democracy students and civil society groups in Hong Kong, we are also witnessing a new crackdown on demonstrators,” said Green parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich Gulf Islands). 

“Amnesty International has warned that China could very soon ban dual Chinese-Canadian citizens from leaving Hong Kong. Canada must act now to assist Canadian citizens who wish to leave Hong Kong and return to Canada. Canada should also accept political asylum seekers from Hong Kong.”

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