I have had several constituents contact me about the situation in Hong Kong. I spoke of my concerns about China’s behaviour in the House of Commons on 1st July during an urgent statement from the Foreign Secretary https://bit.ly/38vyFyD .
The Politburo and Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing has adopted a wide-ranging national security law for Hong Kong. This is a grave and deeply disturbing step. It has been imposed on the people of Hong Kong by the authorities in Beijing and it constitutes a clear and very serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
This declaration was agreed and signed by the UK and China in 1984. It commits to the principle of “One country, two systems”, where Hong Kong’s social and economic systems and lifestyle remain unchanged for 50 years after the handover in 1997. It also guarantees freedom of speech, a free press, the rights of assembly and of association, and crucially that those rights and freedoms will be ensured by Hong Kong Basic Law.
The UK Government is absolutely clear that “The Joint Declaration is a legally binding treaty, registered with the United Nations, which continues to remain in force. It remains as valid today as when it was signed over thirty years ago”. The Government also states the UK “has an obligation and a right to monitor its implementation closely, and we are strongly committed to doing so”.
I am proud that our Government is honouring our responsibilities to the people of Hong Kong under the Joint Declaration. This includes the commitment made in June to change the arrangements for those with British National (Overseas) status to create a bespoke immigration route for them and their dependents.
Given the unique circumstances and our historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong, it is absolutely right that these arrangements have been made. We should be under no illusion that without these exceptional measures the people of Hong Kong are at great risk of imprisonment for expressing freedom of speech or exercising their rights to assembly – rights they have known and enjoyed for decades.
China’s actions undermine international trust in their government’s willingness to keep its word and abide by its international obligations. Our Consul General in Hong Kong has spoken to senior members of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government’s executive to express the UK’s deep objections, and the Chinese Ambassador was summoned by the Foreign Office’s Permanent Secretary to lodge our protest.
I welcome the UK’s work, alongside our international partners, to consider what further action should be taken. Through the UK’s diplomatic leadership, we were joined by 27 other nations in making the first ever formal statement on this issue in the UN Human Rights Council, where deep concern was expressed about the human rights situation in both Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
China has not only breached its international obligations to the UK under the Joint Declaration, but it has broken its promise to the people of Hong Kong under its own laws. It is our moral duty to help the people of Hong Kong.