EU Report: Occupy demonstrators were “overwhelmingly peaceful”

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The Hong Kong Model European Union 2015 kicked off on April 24th. (Photo credit: European Union in Hong Kong and Macao Facebook page)

The European External Action Service and the European Commission on 24 April released their latest annual report to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers on political and economic developments in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), covering 2014.


The report can be found here.

The EU Commission concludes that, notwithstanding significant challenges in 2014, Hong Kong’s unique system of governance under the ‘one country two systems’ principle continued overall to serve it well, and that while EU-Hong Kong trade, economic and cultural relations have been growing steadily, the EU is looking forward to further strengthening and expanding its relations with the Hong Kong SAR.

Stakeholder

The EU reiterates in the report its “commitment to democracy, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and rights in Hong Kong and its attachment to the introduction of universal suffrage”.

“As a stakeholder in Hong Kong’s future, the EU supports the wish of the Hong Kong people to have a high degree of political participation and a genuine choice in the Chief Executive election of 2017 and thereafter,” states the Commission in the report. “The EU hopes that, through constructive discussions between Hong Kong’s Government and its people within the framework of the Basic Law, Hong Kong will be able to reach a timely agreement on a credible, transparent and inclusive election system.”

“Overwhelmingly peaceful”

The 79-day Occupy Movement last year is featured heavily in the report, stating that despite “isolated incidents of violence”, the demonstrators were “overwhelmingly peaceful” and police “use of force minimal”.

The report states, “During the period of civil disobedience, police operations continued to be highly transparent and, bar a few notable exceptions, police conduct was professional and the use of force proportionate. Exceptions included the excessive use of tear gas on 28 September, and the beating, on 15 October, of a protestor by seven police officers, an incident that was recorded by a local television station. The trial of the seven police officers is pending.”

In the report, it is also stated that claims that the Occupy movement had affected the economy were not backed by the economic data, although admitting “companies located within the protest zones did suffer”. The Commission makes the observation that “the retail sector had slowed down long before the demonstrations” citing slowdown in the Chinese economy and the anti-corruption drive on the mainland.

EU Policy

Other highlights include, the Commission’s observation regarding the LegCo chairman halting filibusters, stating that the Legislative Council could benefit from “clearer written rules on conducting debates”; ICAC’s investigation into media mogul Jimmy Lee and the Chief Executive enormous fee from UGL, saying they will “test the capability of the ICAC and the judiciary to investigate and try high-profile corruption cases independently, impartially and free of political considerations”; and the fact that house prices continued to rise in 2014 and are still out of reach for most young people.

According to the report, the European Union and its Member States have been closely following political and economic developments under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle since the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997. The European Union adheres to a ‘one China’ policy and is keen that the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ be fully respected and implemented.