Canadian government must work urgently within international community to head-off imposition of China’s national security law in Hong Kong

OTTAWA – The Canadian government must advance consistent and globally-coordinated action to reverse China’s deeply problematic decision to apply its national security laws to Hong Kong. This troubling move poses extremely dangerous implications for the people of Hong Kong, said several human rights defenders and federal politicians in a press conference today.

Last week, the Canadian government released a joint statement – along with the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia – condemning the new legislation. Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch, said “it is now vital to deepen and expand on this joint declaration of concern, through consistent and forceful diplomacy with China, with other governments around the world, and in all available multilateral fora.”  

“As we prepare to mark the somber 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, more governments must be pressed to join in urging China to relent from taking this deeply troubling step,” Neve said. “For Canada, this needs to be part of an overall coordinated approach taking account of the many areas of human rights concern in our relationship with China, including unjust imprisonment and death sentences against at least six Canadian citizens. The Canadian government must work across all aspects of our relationship with China, including trade and investment, and more recent challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

On Thursday, China’s National People’s Congress approved legislation targeting “separatism, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign interference.” It would also allow central government agencies responsible for national security to operate in Hong Kong, posing a clear threat to human rights in the city.

With this new legislation looming, human rights groups in Canada say there is a mounting crisis in Hong Kong, with implications for Canada’s relationship with China, an increasingly urgent situation for refugees and immigrants and a pressing need for strong multilateral action. 

Avvy Go, Clinic Director at the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, said, “As the erosion of fundamental human rights in Hong Kong continues, the Canadian government should consider accepting more immigrants and refugees from that city, given the strong ties between Canada and Hong Kong.”

Last year, millions of people took to the streets in protest of a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. Hong Kong police responded with batons, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and water cannons. In recent days, thousands of people have protested the national anthem bill, which would criminalize “insulting” or “misusing” the Chinese national anthem. Many of those demonstrators faced arrest or police pepper pellets, a sign that another summer of repression is looming in Hong Kong.

“We have already seen the heavy-handed tactics that Hong Kong police have wielded against demonstrators,” said France Isabelle-Langlois, Directrice générale, Amnistie internationale Canada francophone. “This new legislation gives Chinese authorities the green light to further clamp down and silence dissent in the city. Canada must urge more governments to join in its call urging China to back down from this dangerous national security law. If something isn’t done, we fear this will mark the beginning to the end of Hong Kong as we know it.”

Media contacts:

Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-853-2142,

Khoudia Ndiaye, Directrice des communications et strategies, Amnistie internationale Canada francophone, 514-766-9766 poste 5230,