Hong Kong

Thank you for contacting me about the situation in Hong Kong.

The UK takes extremely seriously its longstanding duty to uphold the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. It is a legally binding treaty, registered with the UN, and remains in force until 2047. It is important that the basic freedoms enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration are maintained. All rights and principles in that agreement have to be respected, not just by Hong Kong but by the Chinese authorities as well.

The Foreign Secretary raised Hong Kong, and the importance of the Joint Declaration, with Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi on 31 July. He also spoke to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on 9 August, when he noted the UK’s support for Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, and its commitment to 'One Country, Two Systems'. The Prime Minister also discussed developments in Hong Kong with other leaders at the recent G7 Summit.

I am seriously concerned about the situation in Hong Kong. Of course the UK Government is right to condemn any violence, but it is absolutely crucial to support the right to peaceful and lawful protests on Hong Kong. The route to resolution through the current situation is via meaningful political dialogue, taken forward under the high degree of autonomy that Hong Kong has under the ’One Country, Two Systems’ model.

The Foreign Secretary has raised his concerns about police behaviour with both the Chinese Foreign Minister and the Chief Executive. In relation to the conduct of the Hong Kong Police, it is important to recognise some of the violence on the ground that they have to deal with. However, in relation to disproportionate actions and overreactions it is very clear. The Independent Police Complaints Council is carrying out an inquiry. International observers will look to see that is credible, and commands the trust of the people of Hong Kong.

I would join the Foreign Secretary in welcoming Carrie Lam’s formal withdrawal of the extradition law on 4 September and some of the incremental steps she has taken to improve the credibility of the Independent Police Complaints Council. The initiative from the Hong Kong Government to consult the people they serve will be a first step on the essential path towards a more inclusive political dialogue, building trust with all communities in Hong Kong.

The Foreign Secretary has discussed his concerns with the Carrie Lam about violence and protecting internationally recognised human rights standards, which are of course reflected in the Joint Declaration. They also had an exchange of views about the fact that the protests in Hong Kong are so widespread that they cannot be put down to a small number who are engaged in violence. There needs to be meaningful political dialogue that touches on people’s deeper concerns about the autonomy of Hong Kong being respected.

The UK will continue to monitor closely events in Hong Kong, with Government Ministers speaking publicly on issues of concern.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Craig Whittaker MP

5th November 2019.