Relations with China: Xi Jinping Presidency — [Sir Edward Leigh in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 2:42 pm on 16th March 2023.

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Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 2:42 pm, 16th March 2023

Seeking to be up to date, I will ask the Minister of State for the Indo-Pacific to write a letter to the hon. Lady to that effect.

Let me move to the issue of Hong Kong. The hon. Member for Strangford raised this in meaningful terms and noted where China’s national security law has stifled opposition and criminalised dissent. Of course, the UK Government acted quickly and decisively to introduce a bespoke immigration route for British national overseas status holders and their immediate family members. More than 150,000 BNO visas have been granted, providing a route to UK citizenship. We welcome the contribution that that growing diaspora makes to life in the UK, as we welcome the contribution of the diaspora with links to mainland China. We will continue to stand up for the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, as agreed in the Sino-British joint declaration.

Let me turn to the issue of Taiwan. China’s military exercises in August last year undermined peace and stability in the Taiwan strait. Those are not the actions of a responsible international power. The UK has a clear interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan strait. This issue must be settled by the people on both sides of the strait and through constructive dialogue, without the threat or use of force or coercion. We do not support any unilateral attempts to change the status quo.

To conclude, China under Xi Jinping poses an epoch-defining challenge with implications for almost every area of Government policy and everyday life in Britain.