After controversial sentence of democracy activists in Hong Kong on April 16, a number of Western countries issued statements condemning this action. However, the European Union (EU) was unable to issue its own statement, due to the apparent inconsistency between member states.
Paradoxically, this is arguably the most powerful EU statement regarding events in Hong Kong, and the prevailing words “condemnation” and “concern” must be accompanied by concrete actions. However, decisions in the area of the EU’s general foreign and security policy must be made by consensus and Leaked reports indicated that one of the states, Hungary, opposed the proposal.
Most subsequent commentary has focused on the analysis of Hungary’s motives and attitudes, among which it is called China’s Trojan horse in Europe. Despite the lack of direct evidence, it is not difficult to draw such conclusions, given the way Hungary has behaved in recent years.
What the commentators largely overlooked is a confusing look at the content of the proposed actions. Although there are only leaked reports, those reports show that the most notable actions are aimed at canceling extradition treaties with China and providing a plan to help Hong Kongers to settle down. reside in the EU.
Both of these points are problematic, although I will focus on the latter. The former was not supposed to be on the agenda at all, as the 10 member states involved should have long since halted such treaties, as China escalated its acts of repression in both Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
The leaked document mentions that the EU Planned “Welcome ‘highly qualified’ Hong Kong workers and students to the block.” This is a very problematic statement, as it indicates that the ultimate beneficiary of this action will not be. Hong Kong people, which is the EU itself.
Why welcome only “highly qualified” people and not open this program to everyone in Hong Kong? The EU appears to be a latecomer in taking advantage of the brain drain in Hong Kong. Japan, Singapore, Australia, Canada, and, most notably, the UK made their moves much earlier by providing skilled and wealthy Hong Kongers a reasonable pathway to citizenship.
UK in particular front of the curve, as it changed the rules for single British National passport holders overseas. These documents, a reminder of the colonial practice of Hong Kongers as second-class citizens, now allow anyone born before 1997 to work in the UK and will be able to afford it over time. sue for naturalization.
Britain’s initial offer was quite expensive and inexpensive for many of the young protesters who were most at risk. However, one recent adjustments The rules have established a financial aid clause for qualified applicants. Furthermore, while many protesters were born after 1997 and did not qualify directly, the UK proposal may still apply to them since family members are covered under the program.
We don’t have any details on the European proposal; however, limiting it to “highly skilled” workers and students immediately narrowed it down much further than the British plan. It is also inexplicable discrimination. Skilled workers tend to be much richer than workers without such qualifications, making it much easier for them to migrate.
It may be worth reminding European officials that Hong Kong youth themselves will bear the brunt of growing oppression in the special administrative zone, despite the fact that recent administrative celebrations. mainly aimed at seasoned activists. These people are starting their professional careers; Therefore, they have not had the opportunity to accumulate professional knowledge and experience, which are the prerequisites for obtaining a “high skilled” level.
In contrast, the “highly skilled worker” scheme could assist those who assisted both the Hong Kong and Beijing governments in undermining democracy and undermining the rule of law in the former British colony. It’s no secret that government officials aspire to obtain foreign citizenship for themselves and their children, as illustrated in CEO’s family Carrie Lam, Education Minister Kevin Yeungand a large number of other well-paid officials.
There are many messages that the European Union is sending with this proposal. First, it wants to help the rich, while letting the poor do the whim of an increasingly authoritarian government. Second, it is not clear how attracting the city’s brightest people out of Hong Kong will help maintain democracy and the rule of law in the particular administrative region. A contest for democracy and human rights requires a high amount of human capital.
Third, it seems that EU officials have missed the UK debate. The British offer was also initially very narrow in scope, detrimental to less affluent immigrants. However, after criticism and consultation, the proposal gradually expanded. Even if we assume that the EU proposal was compiled under pressure of time and guided by lofty purposes, the inability to learn from its predecessors is disappointing.
Those who focus on the content of the proposal rather than the form must sadly conclude that the EU is using the language of values and human rights to conceal Hong Kong’s attempt to engage in competition for human resources and hunt. look for some talent for yourself. This is hardly consistent with the image of “Standard Power Europe”, which aims to spread norms and values into the international system.
At the end of the day, Hungary could have actually benefited the EU by vetoing such a disgraceful proposal. Representatives of the Viktor Orban government gave European diplomats more time to reconsider their approach to Hong Kong. Let us hope they will use it wisely. The European Union can certainly do better.