China has breached the Joint Declaration and it’s time for the UK to act says Shannon.
Strangford MP Jim Shannon speaking from the Commons said that the fundamental freedoms and laws of the people of Hong Kong are being suppressed by China’s draconian approach.
He added: “The UK has a unique moral, legal and historical duty to stand up to China and to protect Hong Kong’s defining laws. As a representative of Strangford in Northern Ireland, where we celebrate our autonomy and the values that define us.
“I have written to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab MP urging him to grant Hong Kong the same respect by declaring a breach of the Joint Declaration, a legally binding agreement recognized by the United Nations.
The Joint Declaration was signed by the UK and China on 19th December 1984. It legally guarantees the “high degree of autonomy” that defines Hong Kong as a unique place in the world. The Declaration secured the city’s own “executive, legislative and independent judicial powers, including that of final adjudication” for 50 years.
“This is a legally binding treaty, registered with the United Nations, which remains as valid and crucial today as it did when it was signed 36 years ago. Ultimately, it protects Hong Kong’s way of life and the founding values and principles of the city.
“China has taken every opportunity to dismiss and disregard this vital Declaration and the rules-based international order around which it operates. It has unlawfully imposed restrictions on Hongkongers which encroach upon the most basic freedoms and has unashamedly repressed and even tortured pro-democracy activists across the city.
“Most recently, China plans to impose new National Security Laws which irrefutably undermine the autonomy of Hong Kong. Pro-Beijing lawmakers also recently banned a vigil marking the Tiananmen Square massacre for the first time in 30 years, showcasing the tight restrictions upon freedom of speech being imposed upon the city.”
Mr Shannon added: “If we are truly committed to protecting the rights that were guaranteed under the Joint Declaration, then we must speak up as a matter of urgency.
“On 2nd June, the Foreign Secretary claimed that China has undermined the ‘one country, two systems’ approach. Whilst these statements are welcomed, a sustained, concrete response from the UK is the only way to secure an impactful outcome.
“The first step is to formally acknowledge that China has breached the Joint Declaration. I have written to the Foreign Secretary urging him to speak up and declare this breach.
“The UK government has argued that it ‘has an obligation and a right to monitor the implementation [of the declaration] closely‘. As we celebrate the one year anniversary of the most recent Hong Kong protests, now is the time for the UK to honour our obligation and our duty.
“Declaring a breach of the Joint Declaration is important because it will legitimise subsequent meaningful acts that the UK government can thereafter engage with, including imposing Magnitsky-style sanctions on senior officials across Hong Kong responsible for alleged torture and human rights abuses. The first step to truly support Hong Kong is to declare a breach.”
He added that Britain has a legal, historical and moral duty to Hong Kong and to protect the rights and freedoms of its people saying there is systemic persecution of Christians and other faiths and said: “Indeed when I highlighted this to the Minister on 21 July, it was clear that government were aware of all the issues I raised.
“To honour this commitment, we must take concrete and urgent action to protect Hongkongers. I wrote several times to Minister Raab MP in solidarity with the brave Hongkongers fighting for their freedom against the repressive Chinese Communist Party which has incarcerated millions in mainland China for their faith, has bulldozed Christian churches and imprisoned Christian worshippers and was delighted with the PMs response to assure Hong Kong citizens with British visa rights and their family members that a path will be offered to UK citizenship. Now it is time to see action to fulfil our undoubted obligations.
Jim Shannon is a Democratic Unionist politician from Northern Ireland. He has sat in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom since 2010 as the Member of Parliament for Strangford. Jim Shannon MP has raised numerous parliamentary questions and motions in support of Hongkongers.