China poses a "direct threat to our freedom" if we don't stand up for Hong Kong

8 August 2020, 15:42

By Seán Hickey

This expert in China-Hong Kong relations warned that if we continue to stand by while China tightens it's grip on Hong Kong, our own freedom will come under threat.

Ben Rogers is Co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch, an organisation that documents democratic freedom in Hong Kong, which has come into question in recent times as Chinese National Security laws tighten in the state.

Maajid Nawaz wondered if we stand by and allow China to continue imposing itself on Hong Kong "would it get to a point of no return where it's too late to do anything."

"If the response is too slow and Beijing gets the impression that the international community is not...united enough," Mr Rogers said, "then I don't think it's going to stop with Hong Kong, next will be Taiwan and then the rest of us."

"This is not only a battle for freedom for Hong Kong but for freedom itself against tyranny," he warned.

Mr Rogers told Maajid that "there is a real danger that we could well see conflict if non-military means are not used rapidly to try to put pressure on Beijing to think again."

Maajid tried to draw parallels with the appeasement policies of the 1940s which Mr Rogers acknowledged. "It's better to act now and prevent it escalating," he said.

He added that we might find ourselves having the choice of "either having military conflict or just continued encroachment that one day will lead to our own freedoms directly threatened," if there isn't a joined up approach from western democracies.

Ben Rogers warned that if we stand by while China cracks down on freedom in Hong Kong they will move on to Taiwan
Ben Rogers warned that if we stand by while China cracks down on freedom in Hong Kong they will move on to Taiwan. Picture: PA

Maajid Nawaz asked Mr Rogers if the UK has been "too slow to react to the erosion of Hong Kong's freedoms over recent years," but the Hong Kong expert insisted that the UK has done a lot right.

He commended government for "stepping up when the national security laws were stepped up," but conceded that "there certainly is more to do."

Mr Rogers suggested the UK "follow the US in targeted Magnitsky style sanctions," which President Trump imposed on HK Executive Carrie Lam earlier this week.

The Hong Kong Watch Chair said that there is plenty of justification for sanctions on some people involved in the tightening of Beijing's authority on Hong Kong for "human rights violations and its breach of an international treaty," being the Sino-British Joint Declaration.