British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday expressed his “deep concern” at the ongoing turmoil in Hong Kong and repeated a call for an independent inquiry to “rebuild trust”.

In its latest six-monthly report to parliament on Hong Kong, the UK government chronicles its alarm at months of unrest and its strong opposition to China’s national security law.

Dominic Raab at Covid presser. Photo: Number 10, via Flickr.

“The situation is of deep concern and the events during this period require a robust, independent inquiry to rebuild trust,” Raab tweeted.

After massive and often violent rallies broke out last year, China plans to impose a sweeping anti-subversion law that will bypass the city state’s legislature.

Britain says the law is in violation of a deal it signed with China when it handed over Hong Kong in 1997, that the city should keep certain freedoms and autonomy for 50 years.

“The way through the current situation in Hong Kong is clear: all sides must invest in dialogue and reconciliation, underpinned by a robust, independent inquiry,” said Raab.

“It is incumbent on the Hong Kong government to acknowledge not just the economic causes of the unrest, but also its people’s concerns about their freedoms and values.”

Protesters holding the British flags outside the British Consulate-General building. Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

An estimated one million people took to the streets a year ago to oppose a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China, which was subsequently withdrawn.

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam gave a speech at the start of this year vowing to heal divisions but her administration has taken few steps towards promoting reconciliation.

Instead it has strongly backed Beijing’s national security law, while the prosecution of protesters and prominent pro-democracy activists has been ramped up.

Raab repeated that on the law, “there is still time for China to re-consider, to step back from the brink and respect Hong Kong’s autonomy and respect its own international obligations”.

Britain has offered to extend visa rights to millions of people in Hong Kong if China presses ahead with the law.

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