Hong Kong

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

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

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am grateful that the whole House has a similar view on these concerns. Mr Carmichael is absolutely right; we are addressing these matters, this debate will be shown in Hong Kong and it is important that we stand by the Hong Kong citizens whose rights are part of the duty that we have to uphold in order to ensure that one country, two systems is maintained.

We have called for the suspension of the extradition Bill and for further consultation. That is the right thing to do for two fundamental reasons. First and foremost, this must ultimately be a matter for the Hong Kong people. It is absolutely unacceptable for the UK Government to dictate terms, as it is for the Chinese Government to dictate terms in Hong Kong or other parts of the world. We are standing by the joint declaration and its terms, but ultimately it must be for the people of Hong Kong to determine. I am very well aware that, in diplomatic terms, it is important that we find a way for face to be maintained; that is important in the part of the world we are discussing. Therefore, the most desirable outcome would be a severe suspension sine die, but this is ultimately a matter for Hong Kong. Indeed, any judicial aspects of the matter are for an independent and free judiciary—a system that we believe is being upheld in Hong Kong, in contrast to what happens elsewhere.

The right hon. Gentleman makes a very good point regarding the rules-based order. As he says, given that both the UK and China are permanent members of the UN Security Council, there are opportunities there to raise the specific concerns he mentioned. We have made it very clear that not only do we regard the joint declaration as being extant—it will continue to be in place for the period of the one country, two systems approach—but we will also continue to have six-monthly reports. We have made this very clear to the Chinese ambassador to the UK and to other officials. We get criticised every six months and we will make very plain our concerns including that, although we think that one country, two systems is operating fairly well, there is clearly some strain, not least in relation to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Clearly, the next report will go into great detail once the dust has begun to settle on what has happened. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for continuing to express his strong interest, and I know he speaks for many in the House. The Foreign and Commonwealth office led with a statement last week, and we will continue to keep the House updated.