Mark Field, the UK Minister for Asia and the Pacific, has said Britain relentlessly raises human rights issues, but does do so through private meetings instead of “megaphone diplomacy.”

Field was asked by Labour frontbench MP Helen Goodman at a regular Foreign Office Questions at the House of Commons on Tuesday. Goodman said: “The UK is joint guarantor of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong, yet we have seen booksellers abducted, elected legislators barred and student demonstrators imprisoned, and in Guangdong, in December, 10 people were tried in a sports stadium before being executed.”

“Why did the Prime Minister not raise the issue of human rights in public in Beijing? Was it because she does not care or because she is so desperate to get a trade deal?” Goodman, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, asked.

Helen Goodman Mark Field
Helen Goodman; Mark Field. Photo: UK Parliament Screenshot.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May last month visited China. Her office said she and Chinese President Xi Jinping “discussed Hong Kong, and reiterated the importance of and their commitment to ‘One Country, Two Systems’.”

In response to Goodman, Field said: “I reassure the shadow Minister that the Prime Minister did raise these issues, but we do this not through megaphone diplomacy but in private meetings; we relentlessly raise human rights issues, not least in respect of Hong Kong.”

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“As the honorable lady rightly says, it is vital that Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms are respected. Our most recent six-monthly report states that one country, two systems must continue to function well, and we remain concerned by, for example, the rejection of Agnes Chow’s most recent nomination for March’s Legislative Council election,” he added.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.