Hong Kong

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:36 am on 12th November 2020.

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Photo of Alyn Smith Alyn Smith Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 10:36 am, 12th November 2020

I try to be fair, and I have much respect for the Minister. I listened to his statement carefully, and anyone would accept that there are limited things that the UK Government can do about the internal workings of the Chinese state. It would be unfair to say that the UK Government have done nothing on this, but it would be fair to say that they have not done much of any consequence—certainly nothing that has elicited a change of heart from Beijing. I reiterate colleagues’ calls for Magnitsky sanctions. We are not looking for speculation; we are looking for announcements, which are overdue. I appreciate that it is difficult, but we need to take that forward.

There are things that the Government can do, and that are in their control. I would be interested to hear plans for an audit of Chinese engagement with our academic infrastructure, and particularly of Confucius institutes and their activities in the UK. We are overdue an audit of Chinese involvement in the UK’s physical, and data and communications, infrastructure, big chunks of which are being bought up by Chinese companies that are emanations of the Chinese state. We should also look at audits of UK companies engaged in trade in Hong Kong to make sure that they are not benefiting from slave labour. There are things that the UK Government can do domestically now, and I support calls for, and moves towards, our taking those steps.