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Mon, 30 November 2020

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Boris Johnson says China’s Hong Kong security law risks ‘direct conflict’ with Sino-British treaty

Boris Johnson says China’s Hong Kong security law risks ‘direct conflict’ with Sino-British treaty

Dominic Raab told MPs the UK had a “duty” to the people of Hong Kong.

3 min read

China’s clampdown on Hong Kong risks putting it in “direct conflict” with a joint treaty vowing to protect the city state’s freedoms, Boris Johnson has said.

The Prime Minister told the Cabinet on Tuesday that the controversial security law “would significantly infringe on Hong Kong’s autonomy“.

China’s Parliament last week approved plans to curb sedition, foreign terrorism, secession and terrorism in Hong Kong after a year of protests in the former British colony.

The move has drawn condemnation from the UK, Australia, Canada, and United States, who see it as a clampdown on pro-democracy forces in the region.

Britain - which signed a joint declaration with China in the 1980s guaranteeing a separate economic and governance system for Hong Kong - has already threatened to make UK citizenship easier for those living there in a move Beijing has warned would trigger “countermeasures”.

 Speaking after the UK Cabinet met on Tuesday, Number 10 said Mr Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had updated colleagues “on the latest developments in Hong Kong”.
 
And the Prime Minister’s Official spokesperson said: “They both emphasised that the imposition of the national security legislation by China on Hong Kong would be a direct conflict with China’s obligations under the Sino-British joint declaration and would significantly infringe on Hong Kong’s autonomy.

“Cabinet agreed on the need to work with international partners to advocate for the people of Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms.

"They also supported the commitment made by the Foreign Secretary to offer British national overseas citizens in Hong Kong a path to citizenship should China enact this law.”

"It is time for an international democratic alliance to come together and speak with one voice" - Shadow Home Secretary Lisa Nandy

The update came after Mr Raab told MPs the UK had a “duty” to the people of Hong Kong.

The Foreign Secretary said: "If legislation in these terms is imposed by China on Hong Kong it would violate China’s own basic law, it would up-end China’s one country, two systems paradigm and it would be a clear violation of China’s international obligations, including those specifically made to the United Kingdom under the Joint Declaration."

And he added the ball was now “in the court of the government in China” over whether or not to proceed with the security clampdown, which could see Chinese security and intelligence agents stationed in Hong Kong for the first time.

"We are setting out our position clearly and working with our international partners and the ball is in the court of the government in China,” he said.

"It has a choice to make here, it can cross the Rubicon and violate the autonomy and the rights of the people of Hong Kong or it can step back, understand the widespread concern of the international community and live up to its responsibilities as a leading member of the international community."

But Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy urged ministers to be “far more proactive” in standing up to Beijing.

She said: “It is time for an international democratic alliance to come together and speak with one voice.

“The G7 is now off, the G20 isn’t meeting. The discussion at the UN Security Council has been blocked by China.”

Speaking last week, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned countries that Hong Kong was “purely an internal Chinese matter”, and said: “No other country has the right to interfere."

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