UK says China’s security law is a serious breach of Hong Kong treaty
LONDON (UK) – The United Kingdom said China imposing a security law on Hong Kong was a “clear and serious” violation of the 1984 Joint Declaration. It was also highlighted that London would show the way to British citizenship to around 3 million residents of the former colony.
Hong Kong police fired water cannon and tear gas and took nearly 200 people under arrest as protesters took to the streets resenting at the security legislation introduced by China. The protesters also pointed out that they is aimed at dismissing any varying opinion.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament on Wednesday, “The enactment and imposition of this national security law constitute a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
Johnson said Britain would stand by its word to give British National Overseas (BNO) passport-holders in Hong Kong a means to British citizenship, thereby allowing them to settle in UK.
While there were almost 3 million Hong Kong residents are eligible for the passport, there were 349,881 passport holders in February.
Hong Kong’s autonomy was guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement preserved in the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Hong Kong was given back to China on July 1, 1997, after more than 150 years of British rule. It was imposed after Britain defeated China in the First Opium War. China had never identified the “unequal treaties” allowing Britain’s rule of Hong Kong island, the Kowloon peninsula and later its lease of the rural New Territories.
HONG KONG ROW
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain had carefully evaluated China’s national security legislation since it was published late on Tuesday.
Raab told Reuters and the BBC, “It constitutes a clear violation of the autonomy of Hong Kong, and a direct threat to the freedoms of its people, and therefore I’m afraid to say it is a clear and serious violation of the Joint Declaration treaty between the United Kingdom and China.”
However, authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have recurrently said that the legislation is directed at a few “troublemakers” and will not in any way come in the way of rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.
Raab added that he would chart out the action Britain would take with its international partners shortly.
Raab said, “China, through this national security legislation, is not living up to its promises to the people of Hong Kong. We will live up to our promises.”
When asked about how the West should deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he added, “Obviously, China is a leading member of the international community. And it is precisely because of that, that we expect it to live up to its international obligations and its international responsibilities. For trust in China’s ability to do that, today has been a big step backwards.”
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.