30 August 2023 – Today in the British Parliament, the Foreign Affairs Committee released a hard-hitting report that criticises the British government’s relationship with China. The report was published at the same time that British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is meeting with high-level officials in Beijing.
The report highlights how the British government should bolster its relations with the Indo-Pacific region and counter the Chinese threat by reducing its economic dependence on China and outlining a cohesive U.K.-China strategy. Hong Kong features heavily in the report, which once again raises the Beijing-imposed National Security Law that paved the way for the Chinese Communist Party to harass Hongkongers who have spoken out against the Hong Kong authorities and are now living in Britain. The report also condemns the British government for its weak handling of the attack on pro-democracy activist Bob Chan at the Chinese consulate in Manchester in October 2022.
The Foreign Affairs Committee calls on the British government to challenge and prevent attacks against Hongkongers in Britain, enact a zero tolerance of transnational repression policy and produce a well-coordinated resilience strategy for U.K.-China relations. The Foreign Affairs Committee also urges the British government to raise the case of British citizen Jimmy Lai and other British citizens being arbitrarily detained by China.
On a social media channel, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that he would voice human rights concerns including those in Hong Kong with Chinese officials during his visit to Beijing. James Cleverly should back his words with actions and publicly call for the immediate and unconditional release of Jimmy Lai and the Apple Daily Seven.
Mark Sabah, UK and EU Director of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, said:
“The CFHK Foundation welcomes this report from the Foreign Affairs Committee that challenges China’s increasingly aggressive positions abroad. We fully agree that the British government should reclassify China as a ‘threat’ rather than a ‘systemic competitor’ and clearly outline its approach towards managing the British relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.
Whilst we welcome the British government engaging with China, it is important that British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly calls for the immediate release of Jimmy Lai and the Apple Daily Seven. James Cleverly should defend the rights of Hongkongers, Uyghurs, Tibetans and other repressed groups in China to counter Beijing’s ever-increasing threat on the international stage. We must make sure that trade and finance do not trump people’s fundamental human rights.”