Hong Kong: Pro-Democracy Activists

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

I very much agree with the hon. Gentleman and thank him for his comments. We are often criticised for speaking endlessly about trade and other opportunities. Clearly, Hong Kong was very much a mercantile base for the UK from the 1840s onwards. However, we do not in any way take lightly the importance of addressing human rights issues, particularly for those living in Hong Kong.

We have made it very clear that for Hong Kong to fulfil its potential—and, indeed, for China to do so in areas such as the belt and road initiative—the independence of, dare I say it, a common law system such as the British legal system is seen as more reliable for investors than perhaps the more doubtful, or at least less orthodox, systems in Shanghai and elsewhere. Although Pudong in Shanghai is a very important financial centre for China and does a lot of domestic work, Hong Kong still enjoys the confidence of many international capital markets.

On the specifics of free trade agreements in a post-Brexit world, clearly Hong Kong would be towards the top of the list, given the strength of our relationship. We have made it very clear to China that one of the reasons we want one country, two systems to be properly promoted is that it is very much in the interests of China’s plans for its own economic development in the years to come. I thank the hon. Gentleman for his focus on that particular issue, but we should not deny that human rights issues will remain extremely important as far as our own commitment to one country, two systems is concerned.