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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 Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 12:42 pm, 2nd July 2019

I thank Mr Carmichael for once again raising this issue, and I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question. This is a deeply serious matter, and I think that that has been expressed by Members across the House. I welcome the remarks of the Foreign Secretary and of his deputy at the moment, the Minister for Europe and the Americas, that the authorities must engage in a meaningful dialogue and that the preservation of rights and freedoms are critical. I also welcome what was said by our partners in the European Union who have said that these rights need to be respected. There is never an excuse for violence—there cannot be an excuse for violence—but we must reflect on the concerns of non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch about the use of torture and also, as has been reflected on by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, the concerns of the overwhelming majority who have undertaken peaceful protest; their voices must not be drowned out over the coming days. It is more important than ever that Hong Kong’s autonomy and the independence of the judicial system are respected. It will be good to hear the Minister’s plans to put that case, and also to urge the Hong Kong authorities to listen to legitimate concerns. The Foreign Office must do what it can to facilitate that and to work, where appropriate, to de-escalate tensions. Now is the time for calm heads.