MPs join Hong Kong protest in London as region comes under tighter Beijing control

12 June 2021, 21:37

Protesters demonstrated in London
Protesters demonstrated in London. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

A pro-Hong Kong protest marched through London to mark three anniversaries as the territory continues to come under tighter rule from Beijing.

Various organisations held the rally as part of the "Global Campaign for Hong Kong", marking the second anniversary of protests against an extradition law.

Organisers also said it marked the 180th anniversary of the territory's modern era and the defence of the region from the Japanese Empire during 1941.

A demonstration at Marble Arch was expected to be followed by a march towards Trafalgar Square.

MPs including Iain Duncan Smith and Stephen Kinnock spoke at the event.

Mr Duncan Smith said he was "proud to stand with you today" while Mr Kinnock said "there has to be one country two systems and that has to be respected".

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Critics accuse China of violating commitments to preserve freedoms that people in Hong Kong were supposed to enjoy for at least 50 years after the UK handed over sovereignty to China in 1997.

The 2019 protests started as peaceful marches against a law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to China, potentially suffering mistreatment and unfair trials.

The legislation was withdrawn but protesters began to demand universal suffrage and an investigation into police abuse.

Gatherings became more violent as demonstrators took on police, with authorities employing harsh tactics.

A national security law has since been imposed, snuffing out dissent – with its supporters arguing it ensures people in charge of Hong Kong are Chinese patriots who want to promote public order and economic development.

It has also become harder to arrange opposition gatherings or express views critical of the government.

The region's legislative council has been redesigned to ensure pro-Beijing delegates hold an overwhelming majority while media outlets are mostly dominated by pro-China business groups.

Two events to mark the suppression of the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Beijing's Tiananmen Square have been cancelled this year.