Congratulations on your new role. I am writing to call upon you to ensure that Britain enforces its obligations under the terms of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.
A few weeks again I asked this formal written question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to the UN about the compatibility of the Government of Hong Kong’s proposed extradition law with the Sino-British Joint Declaration by the Governments of China and the UK in 1984.
The Minister’s response was deeply disappointing:
We do not assess that the extradition proposals themselves breach the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as the Treaty did not explicitly deal with extradition arrangements.
If at some stage in the future we were to take the view that China had breached its obligations under the Joint Declaration, this would, under international law, be a bilateral matter between us and China and we would pursue it accordingly.
I fundamentally disagree with this analysis. This Joint Declaration guaranteed that, for 50 years after 1997, Hongkongers’ rights, freedoms and way of life would be protected in law. In particular, the Declaration guaranteed that Hongkongers would enjoy fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, among others.
Yet suffrage and democracy have been deliberately and dangerously eroded in Hong Kong since 1997 and the Foreign Affairs Select Committee have warned that the “one country two systems” policy is becoming more like “one country one system”. China has breached the terms of the Joint Declaration on many occasions, and most recently with the Extradition Bill, which would allow dissidents in Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China to face trial.
Britain has a unique legal, historical and moral responsibility to Hong Kong and to better promote the fundamental rights of the residents of Hong Kong and of China. I therefore would like to know what concrete steps you will take to uphold the Joint Declaration and to put in place sanctions against persons and institutions that are involved in undermining freedom in Hong Kong. Please send a strong message that Britain will stand by its promises and defend Hong Kong’s freedom.
I would also welcome your comments on the following resolution calling for export controls on technology used to violate basic rights and which has been adopted by the European Parliament: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2019-0004_EN.html