Boris Johnson urged to lead global response on Hong Kong and China

China’s decision to pass Hong Kong security law has strained relations with UK and US

Pro-democracy protester  waves a British colonial flag during a  rally at a shopping mall in the Central district in Hong Kong. Photograph: Isaac Lawrence / AFP via Getty Images

Pro-democracy protester waves a British colonial flag during a rally at a shopping mall in the Central district in Hong Kong. Photograph: Isaac Lawrence / AFP via Getty Images

 

A group of seven former UK foreign secretaries have reportedly asked Boris Johnson to lead a global effort to respond to the ongoing crisis between Hong Kong and China.

China’s ceremonial legislature, the National People’s Congress, endorsed a security law for Hong Kong earlier this week that has strained relations with the UK and the US.

The law will alter the territory’s mini-constitution, or Basic Law, to require its government to enforce measures to be decided later by Chinese leaders.

According to the BBC, the cross-party group of former cabinet ministers has written a letter to the UK prime minister stressing the importance of the UK taking the lead in responding to the situation unfolding with its former colony.

Jeremy Hunt, David Miliband, Jack Straw, William Hague, Malcolm Rifkind, David Owen and Margaret Becket reportedly urged Mr Johnson to establish an “international contact group” of allies to coordinate any joint intervention action.

A Downing Street spokesman told the BBC the government was already playing a leading role with international partners in urging China to rethink their actions.

Confirmed

On Sunday, foreign secretary Dominic Raab confirmed that the UK will allow people in Hong Kong who hold BNO passports to come to the UK and apply to study and work for an extendable 12-month period which in turn will “provide a path to citizenship”.

Mr Raab told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: “We, as part of the handover, the package of measures that were put together with the joint declaration back in 1984, we agreed this BNO passport holder status.

“What we are saying now is, if China follows through with this national security legislation – which, very clearly, violates, not just the autonomy that is guaranteed under Chinese law, that the Chinese agreed under the joint declaration as a matter of international law to uphold – it also undermines the freedoms that were also protected in the same way.

“If it sees to follow through on this legislation we will give those people who hold BNO passports the right to come to the UK, we will lift that six-month restriction, we will allow them to come to the UK to live, to apply to study and work for extendable 12-month periods and that will provide a path to citizenship.”

“I’m a child of a refugee. We have got people around the Cabinet table with similar stories. We are not going to turn a blind eye. We are not going to look away from our responsibilities from the people of Hong Kong.”

Committee

Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and Tory MP Tom Tugendhat warned that the UK’s relationship with China needs to change in light of the unfolding situation with Hong Kong.

Mr Tugendhat said the UK government must realise that China has a “very, very authoritarian system of government” and rethink the partnership between the two.

He added that the planned security law for Hong Kong, which would make it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority in the territory, shows China as “an authoritarian state which has decided to tear up the rules”.

“This isn’t just about Hong Kong, it is about China living up to the commitments it has made,” Mr Tugendhat told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“And given that China is now a major, quite understandably and quite rightly, a major global player – second largest economy in the world, the most populous country in the world – it is really important we know whether China is going to live up to the promises it made or not.

“That is why this is more than about Hong Kong, it is about all of us dealing with an authoritarian state which has decided to tear up the rules.”