Hong Kong

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:04 pm on 18th June 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State 2:04 pm, 18th June 2019

The huge protest march this weekend was a further demonstration of the passionate strength of feeling among the people of Hong Kong about the proposed amendments to extradition laws. The people of Hong Kong have peacefully exercised their rights in recent days to freedom of speech, assembly and expression, all of which are guaranteed by the Sino-British joint declaration of 1984 and enshrined in Hong Kong Basic Law.

The most recent march was, thankfully, free of the scenes of violence witnessed during protests on 12 June. I note the allegations of inappropriate use of force by the Hong Kong police, which should, of course, be fully investigated by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.

It is positive that, on 15 June, the Government committed to pause, reflect and consult widely before taking further action. However, it is clear that this commitment did not fully address the concerns of the people of Hong Kong. I welcome Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s statement today, in which she said that she would not proceed with the Second Reading of the Bill if the fears and anxieties of the people of Hong Kong could not now be addressed.

In considering the way forward, it is vital that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms set out in the joint declaration are respected in full. Those principles, along with the commitment to one country, two systems underpin Hong Kong’s future success and prosperity. As a guarantor of the joint declaration, the UK has a responsibility to monitor its implementation. This is a responsibility that we all take very seriously.

The joint declaration is a legally binding international treaty between the United Kingdom and China, and it remains in force. It is as relevant today as it was at the time of the handover in 1997. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer both raised the situation in Hong Kong and the importance of upholding the joint declaration with Chinese Vice Premier Hu during the UK-China economic and financial dialogue that took place in London yesterday.

The permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office also held a meeting in the Foreign Office with the Chinese ambassador yesterday, reinforcing our view that the joint declaration is an extant document underpinning one country, two systems and it is guaranteed until 2047. It must be upheld. I can assure the House that the UK Government are, and will remain, fully committed to the preservation of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.

I am delighted that, in addressing this matter on the Floor of the House for the fourth time in six sitting days, there is such widespread support from all corners of Parliament for the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and the freedoms for the people of Hong Kong.