Year of Inaction: Boris Johnson’s Govt Fails to Stand up to Communist China in Hong Kong

Alexandra Wong (C), an activist known as Grandma Wong, waves a British Union Jack flag outside the High Court in Hong Kong on March 6, 2021, where 11 pro-democracy dissidents were expected to apply for bail after being charged with conspiracy to commit subversion in the broadest use yet of …
ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP via Getty Images

On the 24th anniversary of the handover of the former British colony of Hong Kong to the communist regime in Beijing, pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson’s government to take action against the Chinese dictatorship’s vicious crackdown on human rights in the city after a year of inaction.

As Beijing celebrates the one hundred years of Mao Zedong’s Communist Party, there is little to celebrate in Hong Kong on the one year anniversary of the imposition of the draconian National Security Law on the city.

Pro-democracy activists such as Joshua Wong are in prison and others such as Benny Tai await trial.

The city’s leading free speech-advocate newspaper, the Apple Daily, was forced to close last month after communist apparatchiks in Hong Kong froze the paper’s assets and raided their offices, accusing the paper of “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security”.

In June, the Carrie Lamb puppet government banned the people of Hong Kong from holding a vigil for the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre for the second year running, using the Chinese coronavirus as a justification.

Speaking to Breitbart London last month, Hong Kong activist-in-exile Nathan Law said that the prohibition of the vigil and the recent imposition of a censorship board on the city’s film industry represented the “annihilation” of the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ guarantee of local autonomy promised under the Sino-British Joint Declaration after the UK relinquished control of the city to the communists in 1997.

“The way that China has been dealing with Hong Kong is to transplant the dominance of all power, so they are crushing the civil society including the rights of artistic expression and all sorts of rights,” Mr Law lamented.

“This is defiantly a demonstration of Hong Kong’s One Country, Two Systems annihilation and turning into One Country, One System,” the Hong Kong activist added.

In what is now recognised by some as a monumental error, the treaty signed between the UK and Beijing governing the handover of Hong Kong failed to include any enforcement mechanism should the Communist regime fail to uphold the promise of local autonomy, which was supposed to last for fifty years until 2047.

After a year of brutal crackdowns on the pro-freedom movement in the city after the introduction of the National Security Law, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab finally accused Beijing of violating the principles of the Joint Declaration in March.

“Beijing’s decision to impose radical changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system constitutes a further clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British joint declaration,” Raab said at the time, adding that Britain “considers Beijing to be in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the joint declaration”.

On Wednesday, Raab said: “The UK will not look the other way on Hong Kong and we will not duck our historic responsibilities to its people.”

Yet, aside from offering Hong Kong British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders a path to citizenship in the UK, the Tory government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seemingly been reticent to take firm action against Communist China.

Speaking to Breitbart London, the founder and chairman of Hong Kong Watch, Benedict Rogers said that while the UK should be applauded for its “very courageous and generous visa policy for Hong Kongers,” the government “must not be allowed to think that is all that is needed.”

“That scheme rescues people who need to leave Hong Kong but it does nothing to change the situation on the ground or hold the regime accountable for destroying Hong Kong’s freedoms,” Rogers said.

“The government has issued some strong statements in the past year, but strong statements alone, welcome though they are, will not make a difference to the dictators in Beijing.

“The time has come for real action, coordinated with as many allies around the world as possible – robust, targeted sanctions against those in the regime in Beijing and Hong Kong responsible for the dismantling of Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy and breaking promises made in an international treaty.”

A group of cross-party MPs has called on the government to implement Magnitsky-style sanctions on Hong Kong officials through targetting their assets and personal ties to the UK, which they said would be “a very effective tool to hold them accountable.”

The MPs singled out the CCP-backed chief executive of the city, Carrie Lam — who has been instrumental in the Communist takeover of Hong Kong over the past years — as a prime target for sanctions.

While both the Trump and Biden administrations have imposed sanctions on Chinese officials over the crackdown in Hong Kong, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has refrained from targetting anyone involved in violating the treaty.

Johnson, like previous Conservative Prime Ministers such as David Cameron, have sought to foster more economic ties between London and Beijing. While Cameron pushed the idea of a “golden era” of UK-Chinese relations, Johnson has reportedly been seeking to sign a massive post-Brexit trade deal with dictatorship.

It is perhaps unsurprising then that all of Johnson’s government ministers refrained from voting to declare that the Chinese Communist Party was committing genocide in Xinjiang.

Writing in Politics Home on Wednesday, Labour MP Stephen Kinnock accused the Tory governments of being “naïve and complacent in their approach to relations with China.”

The MP argued that the British governments have effectively lost their leverage and influence over China by allowing “critical sectors” of the UK economy and infrastructure to become “over-reliant on Chinese imports and supply chains.”

He said that while the hope may have been to coax the Communist Party to fall in line with international norms and standards, the “exact opposite” has happened, with Western money only serving to fund Xi Jinping’s rising authoritarianism.

Kinnock argued that the government should abandon its “weak” talk on China, saying: “The UK must always defend human rights, democracy and the rule of law, starting with Hong Kong – which represents the frontline in the fight for democracy.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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