United Kingdom seeks allies to help with potential Hong Kong 'exodus'

03 Juin, 2020, 16:23 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Thousands of Hong Kong protesters carry a British flag by the harbour

They said that China's proposed national security law in Hong Kong was "a breach" of the deal between the United Kingdom and China on Hong Kong.

Raab said the security law was in breach of the "one country, two systems" principle enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, and also conflicted with Article 23 of China's own basic law.

British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab described the proposed Chinese national security law as "authoritarian".

Last Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "no reasonable person [could] assert" Hong Kong remains autonomous from China.

In his column, Johnson wrote that if China proceeds to justify the "fears" of Hong Kongers, "then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away; instead we will honour our obligations and provide an alternative".

Johnson, echoing earlier statements by cabinet ministers, said that if China imposes a national security law, Britain would allow holders of the BNO passports to remain for 12 months on a renewable basis and would grant them the right to work, placing them on a possible path to United Kingdom citizenship.

The prime minister's offer would only come into play if China presses ahead with new security laws that strip Hong Kong of its traditional freedoms.

The plan for the legislation follows months of often violent pro-democracy protests in previous year that plunged Hong Kong into its biggest crisis since the handover.

The rally also come after the compiler of Hong Kong's benchmark Hang Seng Index last month changed its rules to allow the inclusion of companies with weighted voting rights and those with secondary listings.

Among a crowd you look up at a stage with Chinese and British dignitaries as British soldiers lower the Union Jack
Hong Kong was handed back to China from Britain in 1997

"It reflects two things, first the severity of the situation on the ground, and second the fact that the British government genuinely, and rightly, feel a sense of duty to citizens of Hong Kong and are going to do all they can to stop them becoming the collateral damage of escalating geopolitical tensions".

"The sad reality is that if China continues down this track, it will be strangling what has always been the jewel in the economic crown", Raab said, when asked about the future of the Hong Kong dollar peg.

BN (O) passports have been issued to permanent residents of the former British colony and their children since 1987, a decade before Hong Kong was transferred back under Beijing's sovereignty. While Hong Kong was seized from China by the British in 1841 and ruled until 1997, it was returned via treaty to Beijing's control, albeit with special provisions protecting certain parts of its political and legal system for decades after reunion.

In a statement to MPs, Mr Raab urged China to reconsider its plans which, he said, would threaten Hong Kong's autonomy and prosperity.

A survey of U.S. businesses revealed deep fears for the future of their operations in Hong Kong, with 30% of respondents "moderately" concerned and 53.3% "very concerned" about it.

The survey, on June 1-2 for the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham), drew responses from 180, or 15%, of its members.

"They broke their word to the world on ensuring the autonomy of Hong Kong", Trump said on May 29.

"And it is precisely because we welcome China as a leading member of the world community that we expect it to abide by worldwide agreements".

The vote would fall on a day when Hong Kongers will also mark the anniversary of Beijing's 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, despite city authorities banning the traditional annual vigil because of the coronavirus.

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