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'Gravely concerned' New Zealand and security partners call for fair Hong Kong elections

New Zealand and its Five Eyes security partners say they’re “gravely concerned” by the Hong Kong government’s disqualification of 12 pro-democracy candidates from upcoming parliamentary elections.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters, alongside his counterparts from Britain, Australia, Canada and the US Secretary of State have urged the territory to allow them to contest the elections.

In a joint statement, the ministers said the moves by the Hong Kong government “have undermined the democratic process that has been fundamental to Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.”

“We express deep concern at Beijing’s imposition of the new National Security Law, which is eroding the Hong Kong people’s fundamental rights and liberties,” the statement read.

The nations also all agreed the year-long postponement of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections in September was “disproportionate”.

The territory’s chief executive Carrie Lam put the delay down to Covid-19.

Speaking to TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand was “very concerned”.

“Look, everyone is grappling with Covid and Covid response but it’s whether or not it’s proportionate, and whether or not there are other things at play so that’s why we’ve joined with others in expressing that concern,” she said.

New Zealand, the UK, Canada, Britain and the US have urged the Hong Kong government to hold the elections as soon as possible.

The US is the only country in the group yet to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, in the wake of China’s imposition of a controversial new security law there.