China

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 20th July 2020.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 3:43 pm, 20th July 2020

I thank the hon. Lady for her response and in particular for her support for the two measures that we are taking today: suspending the extradition treaty arrangements and extending the arms embargo. I note that there is a drastically different tone being taken by Opposition Front Benchers from that taken even a few weeks ago, but we welcome her support, and do so in a spirit of cross-party endeavour and the importance of sending a very clear signal to Beijing, and indeed to our international partners, about where we stand.

The hon. Lady asks about the review of policing. Of course she is right about that: it is a question of balance. We will keep that under constant review. She mentions a range of details on BNOs, and they will be set forward by the Home Secretary shortly in the way that I have described. I urge the hon. Lady to wait for the detail before critiquing it. The Home Secretary and the Home Office have been doing a huge amount of work since September last year on all that, and of course we also need to bear in mind the offers that other countries quite rightly and usefully will be making.

I welcome what the hon. Lady says on international co-ordination. She is right about the importance of working with my German opposite number. I am seeing him this week, and it is something that is squarely on the agenda. We have also, through the Five Eyes membership, already touched base with a number our Commonwealth colleagues, but I will continue to do that. She is right that it needs to be more than just the Europeans and the UK with the North Americans—the traditional Five Eyes and Europeans—because there is a whole range of non-aligned countries out there that are very much influenced by what China is doing and saying. We want them to support us in upholding the international rule of law, which in all areas, including, as she mentioned, the South China sea, will be very important.

We rigorously review not just all investments into this country from a security point of view but whether our powers are sufficient. That is something that we will keep under review, and I know that the Secretary of State for Business is looking at it very carefully.

The hon. Lady is right as well about the September LegCo elections. I have made it clear that we want to see them allowed to take place in the way that is recognised in not just the joint declaration but the Basic Law. I agree with her point about the disqualification of candidates. We also need to be realistic, if I am honest with her, about the likelihood of China, or the Hong Kong authorities, accepting international observers.

The hon. Lady asks about the Magnitsky sanctions. She is simply wrong to say that we have not done our homework on them; we have done our homework since August of last year, which is why we could introduce those sanctions for the situation with Jamal Khashoggi, Sergei Magnitsky and North Korea. Of course, the national security legislation, which we are responding to, has only just been enacted, let alone started to be enforced. We will patiently gather the evidence, which takes months. It is not, as the hon. Lady has previously suggested, just something that can be done on a political whim; indeed, it would be improper if that were the case. Of course, if we introduce those targeted sanctions in this field, and indeed any other, without having done our factual evidential due diligence, not only are they likely to be challenged but we are at risk of giving a propaganda coup to the very people that we are seeking to target.

The hon. Lady mentions HSBC. She may or may not have already heard the comments I have made about that. Certainly, we will not allow the rights and the autonomy of the people of Hong Kong to be sacrificed on the altar of bankers’ bonuses. We urge all businesses to look very carefully at how they respond. They are, of course, going to be nervous about any potential retaliatory measures that may be taken by Beijing. In any event, we are very clear on the path that we are taking.

As I have said before, we want a good relationship with China. It is very important that we have a balanced, open debate about this in the House, recognise the opportunities of a good relationship with China, but be clear-eyed, as this Government are, about the risks and what we do to protect against them.