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China threat: Italy and Spain avoid criticising Beijing in Hong Kong vote 'Pretty damning'


The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week asked member states to back a statement condemning China’s actions in relation to the former British colony, with the UK leading the way. However, just 27 nations of the UN’s 193 members did so. By contrast, 53 backed a statement supporting China.

Numerous other nations, including Spain, Italy and Poland did not express an opinion either way.

Author and historian Ben Judah, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, tweeted a link to a map produced by the Axios website highlighted countries which had either criticised or defended China, as well as those which had remained silent.

He commented: “What this shows is there is a Five Eyes bloc emerging on China but not a serious European China policy: no comments from Spain, Italy, Poland pretty damning.”

Mr Judah’s post was retweeted by Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee as well as being a member of the China Research Group.

Speaking to Express.co.uk last month, he emphasised the importance of the Five Eyes alliance, consisting of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, which dates back to the Atlantic Charter and World War 2, as being integral to efforts to formulate a coordinated response to Chinese expansionism.

The West could not afford to remain silent when it came to Hong Kong he stressed, adding: “That’s the challenge and that is why many of us are interested in speaking out against the imposition of the security law.”

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Defending the law, Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, urged the international community to respect China’s right to safeguard security.

In a video message to the Council, she said the city of 7.5 million had been “traumatised by escalating violence fanned by external forces”.

She added: “No central government could turn a blind eye to such threats to sovereignty and national security, as well as risks of subversion of state power.”

The United States, which has been highly critical of China, withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018.

Keith Harper, who served as America’s representative to the Council from 2014 to 2017, told Axios the absence of the US had tipped the balance in China’s favour, with Beijing putting “unbelievable pressure” on countries to back it.

He added: “Since we have pulled away from nearly all international organisations, China has stepped up big time.

“They really want to take over for the United States, and this is why.”

Britain’s statement was backed by Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland.

China was backed by Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Belarus, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, UAE, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


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