Thank you for granting this urgent question, Mr Speaker. I also want to congratulate my hon. Friend Catherine West on securing it. I share her profound concern about these extradition laws, as evidently do hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens who took to the streets over the weekend. These laws constitute not just an erosion but a fundamental breach of the Sino-British declaration and the one country, two systems principle it enshrines. They threaten the judicial independence of Hong Kong.
The warning signs have been coming for several years now: we have seen an increasing crackdown on dissent and protest. Now we face the prospect of a direct line between Beijing and Hong Kong’s courts that could see Hong Kongers sent thousands of miles away to face trial in mainland China’s flawed criminal justice system.
The UK does not have an extradition treaty with China, so why have the Government done next to nothing? The joint declaration is a legally binding treaty registered with the United Nations, and the British Government are the joint guarantor with China of the rights of Hong Kong citizens. Moreover, there are 170,000 British national overseas passport holders, many of whom reside in Hong Kong.
The concessions offered by the Hong Kong Government in the last few hours have no legal force, so I have one question for the Minister: will he make every effort to persuade the Executive in Hong Kong to halt the progress of these highly dangerous extradition amendments before Wednesday’s crunch votes?