Brussels, 16 July 2003
11454/1/03 REV 1 (Presse 213)
Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on Article 23 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong
The European Union:
- Takes note of the decision of the Hong Kong SAR Government to extend the consultation period for the adoption of a National Security Bill enacting Article 23 of the Basic Law
- Welcomes the Hong Kong SAR Government commitment to further engage in building consensus on this issue and to address the concerns expressed about the preservation of the rights of free speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly in Hong Kong
- Also welcomes the withdrawal from the proposed legislation of the provisions concerning the proscription of local organizations subordinate to those banned on the mainland on grounds of national security, which was one of the main concerns, as specified in previous EU statements. The introduction of the notion of "public interest" defense and of its requirements for a court warrant for any police search are also welcome moves, especially with regard to the protection of the freedom of the press and the flow of free information.
- Believes that the recent decisions of Hong Kong SAR Government could serve to alleviate the political atmosphere in the territory.
- Would like to recall its support of the "one country, two systems" principle and of the preservation of the specific status of Hong Kong and respect for human rights and freedoms enjoyed by its citizens, as enshrined in the Basic Law of the SAR.
- Notes that the events of the last few days have demonstrated the desire of the Hong Kong people for faster progress towards the Basic Law's ultimate aim of the election of the Chief Executive and Legislative Council Members by universal suffrage. The EU hopes that the SAR Government will take these feelings into account
- Remains committed to following closely further developments.
The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.