By Andrew Rosindell, MP
Hong Kong has been engulfed in protests for almost 18 months. Millions of citizens have taken to the streets. The Hong Kong government has tried to quash the unrest, and police even violently arrested a 12-year-old girl this week, but Hongkongers remain defiant as they fight for their freedom, democracy and for their lives.
But Hongkongers must not fight alone. UK action is paramount to saving Hong Kong from a bleak draconian future and from being taken over by a dictatorship which even threatens the security of those in the UK.
Last month, the Hong Kong Police Force made a fresh wave of arrests targeting pro-democracy activists. These included three people who were detained for their alleged support of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong, of which I am vice-chair. Our APPG was launched to promote democracy and the rule of law, and to defend human rights in Hong Kong.
To achieve this goal, we launched an which detailed an extensive list of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Hong Kong Police Force against humanitarian workers and protesters alike.
Our report uncovered the reality of Hong Kong’s state brutality. It also documented the experiences of medics and humanitarian aid workers being prevented from doing their jobs and a health care system forced underground due to the police infiltration of public hospitals. The APPG concluded that the Hong Kong police had violated international law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
When China signed the Joint Declaration in 1984 it committed to observing certain freedoms, autonomy and democracy in Hong Kong. The Declaration is a legally binding treaty, lodged with the United Nations, and yet one that the Chinese government has increasingly disregarded over the last couple of years by imposing its power on the city.
For example, Beijing has imposed the new draconian National Security Law on Hong Kong, which criminalises opposition to the power or authority of the central government in any way and colluding with foreign or external forces.
These new offences are legally ambiguous so that they can be used against anyone, including peaceful protesters. Crucially to those in the UK, they are not geographically limited. The National Security Law attempts to criminalise any individual, anywhere in the world, who speaks or acts against the government of Hong Kong or China in any way.
Arrest warrants have already been issued for members of grassroots campaign organisation Stand with Hong Kong, based across the world including in the UK, and parliamentarians in the USA. I could be Hong Kong’s next target, and so could anyone else who speaks up about the Hong Kong government’s wrongdoings.
This new law and the subsequent arrests have been orchestrated directly by China’s ruling Communist Party. It is trying to intimate and deplete pro-democracy protesters and their supporters, both in Hong Kong and abroad.
In response, let me be clear: this APPG cannot be distracted. We will fight for Hong Kong’s freedom until the day that we succeed. But our window in which to stop and reverse these injustices is shrinking. We must act now.
The APPG’s report made several recommendations for ways the British government can work to make sure Hongkongers’ rights are restored. Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has already taken bold steps by halting the export of arms and suspending the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
But we must also impose Magnitsky-style sanctions on senior figures such as Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam. The establishment in Beijing thinks it can act with impunity both in Hong Kong and across the globe. We must act now to show them that is not the case and that the whole world stands with Hong Kong.
Andrew Rosindell is a Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Romford and a member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee. He is also vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong.
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