Government action on Hong Kong "too little too late" warns Emily Thornberry

20 July 2020, 14:53 | Updated: 20 July 2020, 15:57

By Seán Hickey

Previous government's "hot and cold" approach to China has led to the UK's stance on Hong Kong being "too little too late" in standing up to the Communist Party.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is "expected to confirm the UK will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong" this afternoon in response to the increased pressure on the city state from Beijing. Shelagh Fogarty was joined by Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry to comment on the news and on the UK's approach to China in recent years.

"We've been blowing hot and cold a bit" she began, reminding Shelagh of how the Chinese looked fondly on British governments in the past.

She pointed out that when George Osborne visited China "state run media were showering praise on him because he was the first western official who had shown more the region's business potential instead of finding fault over human rights."

Ms Thornberry added that "Theresa May was praised by the Chinese for sidestepping the issue of human rights" too, resulting in us giving "a very mixed message to the Chinese."

Emily Thornberry argued that the government's soft approach to China in the past means any intervention in Hong Kong now is too late
Emily Thornberry argued that the government's soft approach to China in the past means any intervention in Hong Kong now is too late. Picture: PA

"We on our side and other Conservatives were criticising the way in which Britain seemed to have gone soft on human rights in China and, what message is that giving to China particularly when it comes to Hong Kong."

The Shadow International Trade Secretary stated that she welcomed "what they're doing, but it's...too little too late and they should have been consistent throughout."

Ms Thornberry reiterated that "human rights matter to us - and it always has - and the fact we've gone soft on it for a couple of years, we gave them a mixed message."

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