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Former Alliance leader Alderdice adds to outcry over Chinese actions in Hong Kong

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Lord Alderdice

Lord Alderdice

Lord Alderdice

A Northern Ireland peer has signed an international letter criticising the Chinese Government's actions in Hong Kong. 

Former Alliance Party leader Lord Alderdice was one of 739 parliamentarians and policy makers from 37 countries who signed the letter.

This came after China's National People's Congress approved controversial national security laws on Thursday.

The legislation is aimed at stopping the protests that have taken place in Hong Kong for the past year and bans "any acts or activities" that endanger China's national security, including separatism, subversion and terrorism.

These charges have often been used in the country to silence dissidents and other political opponents.

It would also allow "national security agencies" to operate in the territory - potentially Chinese security forces.

The letter signed by Lord Alderdice as well as fellow former Alliance leader John Cushnahan calls for governments to unite against the "flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration".

The declaration is a treaty between the UK and China stipulating the sovereign and administrative arrangement of Hong Kong.

Led by the former Governor of Hong Kong Lord Patten and former UK Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the coalition is comprised of former Prime Ministers, Foreign Secretaries, Defence Ministers, prominent legal and human rights experts, diplomats, senators and MPs.

The letter states that the legislation is a "comprehensive assault" on Hong Kong's autonomy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms.

"It is the genuine grievances of ordinary Hong Kongers that are driving protests," it adds.

"Draconian laws will only escalate the situation further, jeopardising Hong Kong's future as an open Chinese international city."

The letter continues: "If the international community cannot trust Beijing to keep its word when it comes to Hong Kong, people will be reluctant to take its word on other matters.

"Sympathetic governments must unite to say that this flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration cannot be tolerated."

The letter includes more than 180 Canadian signatories, 165 British, over 80 from the European Parliament, more than 100 Japanese, 35 US, 30 German and 26 Australian.

Lord Patten said: "The statement shows growing and widespread international outrage at the decision by the Chinese Government to unilaterally impose national security legislation in Hong Kong."

He added: "The breadth of support, which spans all political parties and four continents, reflects both the severity of the situation and ongoing unified international support for the principle of one-country, two-systems."

Belfast Telegraph