NZ must use its ties with China to protect Hong Kong protestors

The New Zealand Government needs to urge China to respect human rights and the freedom to protest in Hong Kong, the Green Party said today.

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters have taken to Hong Kong's streets in response to a ruling by Beijing that it would vet candidates wishing to run for Hong Kong's leadership in 2017.

"The people of Hong Kong deserve the right to enjoy the democracy that was promised to them by the Chinese Government in 1997," Green Party global affairs spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham said today.

"New Zealand under the John Key Government has developed closer diplomatic and trade ties with China than even Helen Clark's administration which signed the 2008 Free Trade agreement with China.

"The Key Government should use its closer ties with China to speak up for human rights and democracy.

"The Chinese Government should recognise that human rights are not just about economic, social and cultural rights, but they encompass civil and political rights as well.

"The Prime Minister himself could make a statement stressing the need for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Hong Kong.

"Other actions our Government should take could involve calling in the Chinese ambassador so that New Zealand can put on the record our support for universal human rights and freedom," Dr Graham said.

"New Zealand cannot simply stand by and ignore the plight of those protesting for their basic right to democracy in Hong Kong."

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