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Hong Kong

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:42 pm on 2nd July 2019.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 12:42 pm, 2nd July 2019

I thank the Minister for that statement. May I also thank you, Mr Speaker, for again allowing an urgent question on this ever-increasing and serious matter, which is heard not just in this country, but throughout the world? Last night, Catherine West organised a meeting in the House under the auspices of Hong Kong Watch, and she and I co-chaired it. It was a very well attended and, sadly, timely meeting, with more than 100 people, mostly Hong Kongers, present. The message from that meeting, especially from activists such as Tommy Cheung and Willis Ho, was clear: they worry that the Government of the People’s Republic of China will see yesterday’s events as an excuse for ever more direct intervention in Hong Kong’s affairs. They want to hear that this country will continue to stand with them against that threat.

Unfortunately, the images that dominated our television screens yesterday were those of the occupation of the Legislative Council building. There was much less coverage of the fact that on Monday, half a million families, young children and older people marched down major roads in peaceful protests. In his representations to Carrie Lam’s Administration, will the Minister make it as clear as possible that any consequences for the actions of the hundreds of protesters in the LegCo building should not be visited on the many thousands—in fact, millions—of people who have protested on Hong Kong’s streets in recent weeks?

The images broadcast around the world yesterday were ones of violence and vandalism, but they were also images of fear and frustration from people who are increasingly desperate that the world looks on at their plight and will do no more than wring its hands. Will the Minister make it clear to Carrie Lam that there is much more that she and her Administration can do to reassure her own population? It is surely clear to all that a suspension—even a suspension sine die—of the Bill to allow for the amendment of the extradition arrangements is not enough. The people of Hong Kong need to hear that the Bill has been abandoned completely.

The Hong Kong police have described the victims of police violence in recent weeks as rioters, when we know that they were peaceful protesters. Will the Minister impress on the Executive that such use of language must be withdrawn? Will the Executive instigate an independent inquiry into the police violence on 12 June?

Finally, the Chinese Foreign Ministry yesterday declared the Sino-British joint declaration to be meaningless. I welcome the Minister’s repudiation of that from the Dispatch Box, but will the Government will now consider all meaningful sanctions at our disposal, including the possible use of Magnitsky powers, to ensure that those who infringe the human rights of the people of Hong Kong will have no hiding place in the United Kingdom?