China's national security law in Hong Kong would be 'clear violation' of international obligations

2 June 2020, 11:53

Protesters hold a British National (Overseas) passport and Hong Kong colonial flag in a shopping mall during a protest against China's national security legislation for the city, in Hong Kong
Protesters hold a British National (Overseas) passport and Hong Kong colonial flag in a shopping mall during a protest against China's national security legislation for the city, in Hong Kong. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said China's proposed national security law for Hong Kong would be a "clear violation" of their international obligations.

China has faced mounting criticism over a planned security law for Hong Kong which would make it a crime to undermine Beijing's authority.

The Foreign Secretary announced the Government will look to provide a "pathway to citizenship" for British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong if China passes new security laws.

He told the Commons: "The United Kingdom has historic responsibilities, a duty I would say, to the people of Hong Kong.

"So I can tell the House now that if China enacts this law, we will change the arrangements for British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong."

He added: "If China follows through with its proposed legislation, we will put in place new arrangements to allow BNOs to come to the UK without the current six-month limit, enabling them to live and apply to study and work for extendable periods of 12 months, thereby also providing a pathway to citizenship."

Mr Raab said the proposed national security law would "undermine existing commitments to protect the rights and the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, as set out in the Joint Declaration".

He added: "We have not yet seen the detailed, published text of the legislation, but I can tell the House that if legislation in these terms is imposed by China on Hong Kong it would violate China's own basic law, it would up-end China's one country, two systems paradigm and it would be a clear violation of China's international obligations, including those specifically made to the United Kingdom under the Joint Declaration".

Hong Kong was handed back to China from British control in 1997 but under a unique agreement.

Home Office figures suggest there are close to 350,000 holders British National Overseas)passports in Hong Kong which were granted to all people born in Hong Kong before it was handed over from Britain to China in 1997.

Mr Raab told MPs that the UK expects China to live up to its international obligations and is not trying to intervene in China's internal affairs.

Mr Raab said: "We don't oppose Hong Kong passing its own national security law, we do strongly oppose such an authoritarian law being imposed by China in breach of international law.

"We're not seeking to intervene in China's internal affairs, only to uphold China to its international commitments just as China expects of the United Kingdom.

"We don't seek to prevent China's rise, far from it, we welcome China as a leading member of the international community and we look to engage with China on everything from trade to climate change.

"And it is precisely because we recognise China's role in the world that we expect it to live up to the international obligations and the international responsibilities that come with it."