Hong Kong: National Security Law

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 20th July 2021.

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Photo of Aaron Bell Aaron Bell Conservative, Newcastle-under-Lyme

What recent assessment he has made of the effect of the National Security Law on the people of Hong Kong.

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

The national security law in Hong Kong is not being used for its original avowed purpose, which according to Beijing was to target

“a tiny number of criminals who…endanger national security”.

Instead, it is being used to stifle the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and undermine the joint declaration.

Photo of Aaron Bell Aaron Bell Conservative, Newcastle-under-Lyme

I welcome the continuing success of the new visa relief for holders of British national overseas status; it reflects the UK’s historic and moral commitment to the people of Hong Kong in the face of the new national security law, which continues to be used to crack down on freedom of expression, as we have just seen from the recent closure of Apple Daily. Will my right hon. Friend confirm what steps he is taking to ensure that those Hongkongers will be welcomed to Britain and able to integrate into our local communities?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

I think that this is the most big-hearted offer that the UK has made since the Indian Ugandans fled Idi Amin. My hon. Friend is right that it is not just about offering safe haven; the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced a £43 million dedicated support package to ensure that BNOs can integrate and thrive in our country.

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Foreign Secretary

We have watched as the situation has deteriorated in Hong Kong and as genocide is committed in Xinjiang. The Foreign Secretary has issued statements and introduced sanctions while clinging to the absurd prospect of boarding a plane to Beijing next year to participate in a public relations coup for the Chinese Government. He is asking the royal family and senior politicians to stand by while journalists are rounded up, pro-democracy protesters are arrested and 1 million Uyghurs are incarcerated in detention camps. In October, before he was overruled by the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, he said that there comes a point where sport and politics cannot be separated. When is that point?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

The hon. Lady knows that the participation of any national team in the Olympics is a matter for the British Olympic Association, which is required, as a matter of law under the International Olympic Committee regulations, to take those decisions independently. We have led the international response on Xinjiang, and also on Hong Kong. Of course, as we have said, we will consider the level of Government representation at the winter Olympics in due course.

Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Foreign Secretary

While the Foreign Secretary continues to duck the question, the Chinese Government have raised the stakes. Yesterday, he admitted that China was responsible for the Microsoft Exchange hack, which saw businesses’ data stolen and hackers demanding millions of pounds in ransom. He said that the Chinese Government

“can expect to be held to account”.

He might want to have a word with the Treasury, because just two weeks ago, at Mansion House, the Chancellor said that it was time to realise

“the potential of a fast-growing financial services market with total assets worth £40 trillion”.

While the Foreign Secretary is imposing sanctions, the Chancellor is cashing cheques. How does the Foreign Secretary expect to be taken seriously in Beijing if he is not even taken seriously around his own Cabinet table?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs

I thank the hon. Lady, but she is wrong on two counts. It was yesterday that the UK, along with our EU, NATO and US allies and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, publicly attributed the Microsoft Exchange server attacks to the Chinese; it was not then that they took place. She is also wrong in her characterisation of the Mansion House speech. Of course, we have made it clear right across Government that we will hold the Chinese Government to account on human rights, but also on cyber-attacks or other nefarious activities, while also seeking a constructive relationship.