7 July 2023 – Yesterday in the British Parliament, there were multiple sessions which highlighted UK relations with China and Hong Kong. A key focus was on China’s behaviour towards Hong Kong in light of the arrest warrants and bounties placed on the heads of eight Hong Kong pro-democracy activists in the UK, US and Australia.
First, Layla Moran MP tabled an Urgent Question on whether British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will respond to the bounties issued against three exiled Hong Kong pro-democracy activists in the UK. Several MPs urged the British government to implement sanctions against Hong Kong government officials.
During a House of Commons statement on state hostage taking, Alicia Kearns MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said, “This is an opportunity for us to… urge all countries to immediately release those being held. In particular… we call for the release of… Jimmy Lai… We call for the release of all those British citizens who are being unjustly detained.”
Finally, in the House of Lords, Lord David Alton asked an oral question on how the British government plans to respond to the arrest warrants and bounties. Lord Tariq Ahmad responded that the National Security Law in Hong Kong has no jurisdiction in Britain. Lord David Alton and Lord David Howell called for British judges who continue to sit on Hong Kong courts to resign while Baroness Helena Kennedy asked for Magnitsky-style sanctions to be placed on Hong Kong authorities.
Baroness Dianne Hayter followed with a debate on Sino-British relations following the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the suppression of peaceful protests in Hong Kong. She said British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s potential visit to China later this month sends the wrong message to Hong Kongers in the UK who continue to be harassed by the Chinese Communist Party. Baroness Natalie Bennett referenced the parliamentary briefing with Finn Lau and Christopher Mung, raising how the UK should sanction Hong Kong officials who continue to dismantle freedom in Hong Kong.
Mark Sabah, UK and EU Director for the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, said:
“From the arrest warrants and bounties on exiled Hong Kong activists in Britain to British citizen Jimmy Lai, British Parliamentarians are increasingly focused on the plight of Hong Kong. The British government should take seriously the UK’s special responsibility to Hong Kong by taking concrete actions to defend its freedom. This includes immediately implementing Magnitsky-style sanctions against Hong Kong officials, banning British judges from serving in Hong Kong, and offering immediate protection to Finn Lau, Nathan Law and Christopher Mung, who should not live in fear of Chinese Communist Party members on British soil.”