China deals 'severe blow' to Hong Kong freedoms, EU says

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union called on Beijing on Thursday to immediately reverse new rules to disqualify elected legislators, saying the decision was a “severe blow” to the former British colony’s autonomy.

“This latest arbitrary decision from Beijing further significantly undermines Hong Kong’s autonomy under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle,” the EU’s 27 governments said in a statement.

“These latest steps constitute a further severe blow to political pluralism and freedom of opinion in Hong Kong,” the bloc said.

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy opposition lawmakers said on Wednesday they would resign in protest against the dismissal of four of their colleagues from the city assembly after Beijing gave local authorities new powers to further curb dissent.

“We call for the immediate reversal of these decisions by the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong Government and for the immediate reinstatement of the Legislative Council members,” the EU said in its statement.

Reporting by Robin Emmott, editing by Marine Strauss