Hong Kong

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

Like you, I am deeply concerned by recent developments. The UK takes extremely seriously its longstanding duty to uphold the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The legally binding treaty, registered with the UN, sets out that Hong Kong will have a high degree of autonomy, and provides that rights and freedoms, including those of the person, of the press, of assembly, of association and others, will be ensured by law in Hong Kong. It is important that the basic freedoms enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration are maintained. All rights and principles in that agreement must be respected, not just by Hong Kong but also by the Chinese authorities.

Since the District Council elections in November, senior officials have remained in regular contact with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and the authorities in Beijing. The leadership in China and Hong Kong is in no doubt about the strength of the UK's concern over the current situation in Hong Kong, and commitment to seeing the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Joint Declaration upheld.

I am deeply concerned by China’s proposed new security law for Hong Kong and welcome the recent joint statement from the UK, US, Australia and Canada. Direct imposition of national security legislation on Hong Kong by the Beijing authorities, rather than through Hong Kong’s own institutions as provided for under the Basic Law, would curtail the Hong Kong people’s liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous.

China’s decision to impose the new national security law on Hong Kong lies in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. This is an unacceptable situation. The Government of China must work with the Hong Kong SAR Government, and the people of Hong Kong, to find a mutually acceptable accommodation that will honour China’s international obligations under the UN-filed Sino-British Joint Declaration.

If China implements the proposed national security legislation, the Foreign Secretary has said that the UK will be required to change the status of BN(O) passport holders and set in place arrangements which allow them to come to the UK for longer than the current six month period, and to apply for extendable periods of 12 months to work and study, which in itself will provide a pathway to citizenship. I will be following developments closely.