Sir Malcolm Rifkind: "It is a very grim day indeed for Hong Kong"
1 July 2020, 20:31
Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind told LBC that Hong Kong have "every reason" to be anxious about the new security law, calling it "a very very grim day indeed."
The government is offering up to three million Hong Kong residents the chance to settle in the UK after China introduced a new national security law on Tuesday for the territory which will fundamentally change its legal system.
Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind was involved in the final negotiations with China over the transfer of Hong Kong in 1997.
He said the government's offer was part of an obligation "we knew we might have to carry out many years ago."
"We made it clear if there was a crisis in Hong Kong, if the people of Hong Kong risked being handed over to tyranny, to dictatorship, they would find the United Kingdom willing to offer them help."
Sir Malcolm said the people of Hong Kong have "every reason" to be anxious about the new security law, calling it "a very very grim day indeed."
"The transfer of Hong Kong to China happened in 1997 and for the first 23 years, although China made several attempts to limit Hong Kong's autonomy, they were always defeated because they faced the almost united protests of hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers prepared to come out on to the streets peacefully and democratically," Sir Malcolm said.
"What is so unacceptable about what has been done in the last few days is the Chinese rubber stamp Parliament pushed through some legislation, the people of Hong Kong weren't even allowed to see the details of that before it became law. How arrogant and offensive can you be?" Sir Malcolm said.
He continued that the interpretation of the national security bill will not be handled by the normal judges in Hong Kong, who are politically independent, but by hand-picked judges picked by China's representative protege in Hong Kong, Carrie Lam."
China's justification of this move was that the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration was not a treaty. Sir Malcolm dismissed this as "totally absurd" as the treaty signed by the Chinese and British government was due to last 50 years and was deposited with the United Nations.
"They know it's complete rubbish but they are so embarrassed, I suspect, by the knowledge that they are breaking a treaty, they have to find a spurious excuse that convinces no one including themselves," Sir Malcolm Rifkind said.
He predicted that Hong Kongers may wish to go to Singapore or Taiwan, but many will want to come to the UK.
"The vast majority of the sort of people who want to come to the United Kingdom are the best, brightest most able people who share our values."