Cross-party group calls on PM to form international alliance against China’s plans for Hong Kong
A cross-party group of former UK foreign secretaries have written to prime minister Boris Johnson, calling on him to establish an “international contact group” which will muster a response to China’s controversial plans for Hong Kong.
The former cabinet ministers, consisting of Jeremy Hunt, David Miliband, Jack Straw, William Hague, Malcolm Rifkind, David Owen and Margaret Beckett, wrote that in Beijing's plans to impose a new national security law within the territory, there was a “flagrant breach” of the 1997 agreement which saw Britain hand control of Hong Kong over to China.
The proposed security law would criminalise any undermining of Beijing’s authority within the region of Hong Kong. As part of the 1997 agreement and “one country, two systems” framework, a small constitution known as the Basic Law was written to guarantee Hong Kong certain rights and freedoms which do not exist in mainland China. There are fears that the new law could threaten these freedoms.
The proposed law has already stirred up further protests against the Chinese government within the territory.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said that the new security law constitutes a clear violation of the 1997 agreement and the autonomy that Chinese law itself allows.
Raab added that the UK will allow holders of British National Overseas [BNO] passports in Hong Kong to come to the UK and apply to study and work for an extendable period of 12 months, which will then “provide a path to citizenship”.
There are up to three million registered BNO passport holders in Hong Kong, all of whom could be eligible for future UK citizenship if China follows through with the new law.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Downing Street said that the government was concerned by China’s move and was working with international allies to call on Beijing to reconsider.