"Government must do a lot more in response to China," urges Shadow Minister for Asia

20 July 2020, 20:27

By Fiona Jones

Shadow Minister for Asia Stephen Kinnock explained why the Government needs to do "a lot more" as part of their response to China.

The UK will suspend its extradition agreement with Hong Kong amid fears over the new China-imposed security law, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has announced.

Since China imposed its controversial new security law on the region, there have been concerns over what would happen if Hong Kongers suspected of a crime in Britain were sent back to their home country to face justice.

During Mr Raab's update in the Commons, he confirmed the suspension of the UK's extradition agreement with Hong Kong will be "immediate and indefinite", describing it as "necessary and proportionate."

Shadow Minister for Asia Stephen Kinnock called the move a "welcome departure" from the era of David Cameron and George Osborne who were "naive and complacent" to roll out the red carpet to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

However, he said, they could have certainly gone further: "I think there's a particular issue around the so called Magnitsky sanctions where you are able to target particular individuals with asset freezes and Visa bans, and we have not yet seen a single Chinese Communist Party official on those lists."

"We know there are architects of the abuses and persecutions of the Uighur people in Xinjiang province. They're already being named by the United States, why are we not following suit? I think there's a lot more the government could be doing to have a clear and consistent policy on China."

Iain Dale countered Mr Kinnock with the Foreign Secretary's point that it takes weeks to collate the evidence behind these names to enforce these sanctions.

"We've known about these abuses in Xinjiang province for at least three years and MPs have been raising this in Parliament for a very long time," Mr Kinnock said, "whilst I absolutely agree with the Foreign Secretary that when we draw up these lists they have to be watertight...I do not understand why it's taken three years to get to this point."

He called for the Government to respond to China in a more "targeted way" because when countries stand up to an authoritarian regime like the Chinese Communist party "they respect strength and unity and they are contemptuous of division and inconsistency."

Iain asked the Shadow Minister for Asia whether he agreed with some MPs who have called for Chinese video platform Tik Tok to be banned, following plans to remove the kit of Chinese tech company Huawei from the UK's 5G infrastructure.

Mr Kinnock responded that the Government needs an "integrated China policy...one bit of Government doesn't seem to know what the other one is doing."

"We need a debate in Parliament where MPs are able to actually set forward a strategic approach," he said, pointing out that if the UK Government continues to give a "case by case" response to China it will not present itself as a unity.