I will shortly draw my remarks to a conclusion. I was about to quote Lord Ashdown. Following his recent visit to Hong Kong, he said that
“something has happened to cause the almost irrepressible sprit of Hong Kong to be dampened down”.
It is profoundly concerning to hear claims from China that the joint declaration is viewed by some as a historical document of no relevance. Does the Minister agree that it is still relevant now and right up to 2047, that it is a joint declaration by both Britain and China in which both signatories have responsibilities and obligations, and that, as an international treaty lodged at the United Nations, China’s adherence to those obligations under the treaty ought to be taken as an indication of its reliability in adhering to all its international treaty obligations?
Does the Minister agree that, as Lord Ashdown said,
“it is in the interests of Britain, China and Hong Kong to continue to uphold the rights enshrined at the handover”?
Does he also agree that Britain has, as Lord Patten said,
“a right and a moral obligation to continue to check on whether China is keeping its side of the bargain” publicly as well as privately? If so, what are the Government doing to fulfil that obligation?
We must heed the plea of Anson Chan, Hong Kong’s former Chief Secretary, and Martin Lee, founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic party, who told the Conservative party human rights commission, which I have the privilege to Chair:
“We need the UK to speak up forcefully in defence of the rights and freedoms that distinguish Hong Kong so sharply from the rest of China. If it does not lead, then the future of one country, two systems is at best troubled and at worst doomed.”
I hope we will step up to our responsibilities, speak up for Hong Kong and live up to the promise made by Sir John Major 22 years ago that Hong Kong should never have to walk alone.