Hong Kong – a dead end or a fork in the road?

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Chinese Liberal Democrats are pleased that there will be a motion, F31, to be debated at Autumn Conference on “Hong Kong’s Future.”  According to the Conference Agenda, it is scheduled for debate on Monday September 28 but at the unfortunate time of 18.50.  This means that anyone in Hong Kong who would like to participate would have to stay up till 2am, Hong Kong time!

This motion has undergone a number of redrafts, as the situation in Hong Kong is fast changing.  More recent developments such as the postponement of the Legislative Council elections on 8 September for a year till 2021 following the disqualification of 12 pro-democracy candidates from eligibility as candidates were not mentioned in the original motion.  Lib Dems Overseas has therefore proposed an amendment and update which we trust will be accepted for debate by the Federal Conference Committee.

In the meanwhile, I should like to draw everyone’s attention to a survey on Hong Kong which the Chinese Liberal Democrats have prepared to help in our research and policy making.  Do you agree, for example, that the new securities law breaches the Joint Declaration on Hong Kong and threatens “one country two systems,” or do you think it was China’s right to introduce this legislation as an annexure to the Basic Law?

And what of the Lib Dem offer to accept all Hong Kong permanent residents to emigrate to the UK, not just those with British Nationals Overseas status?  Is this realistic or practicable from the UK’s point of view, and do the Hong Kong people even want to up-root themselves across continents?

The most pertinent issue in my mind, however, is whether our policy could be read as advocating a breach of the security law as it stands, even though it is not our intention to support Hong Kong independence, secession, terrorism, subversion, or anything of that sort. We owe a duty of care to our members in Hong Kong (and elsewhere), given how widely the new Securities law has been drafted, to ensure that support for our motion would not be construed as collusion with foreign or external forces to threaten the security of Hong Kong.

I believe, when we say we “Stand with Hong Kong”, we stand with them to protect their way of life, rights and freedoms, as guaranteed by the Basic Law for the period of 50 years till 2047.  During such time, they will have the right to elect their politicians, be it local Councillors, Legislative Councillors or the Chief Executive, under prevailing laws.

Meanwhile, UK has a duty to monitor the situation on the ground and where there have been reports of deterioration in human rights, to take appropriate action as required.  Magnitsky sanctions would only come into play in the event of gross breaches in human rights in accordance with international laws.

But what do you think? Please take our survey and give us your views.


* Merlene was co-founder of Chinese Liberal Democrats and on the executive of the LibDems Overseas. She co-edited “Rise of China – Fresh Insights and Observations” published by the Paddy Ashdown Forum (2021)

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  • Giving the people of Hong Kong the right to settle here seems sensible as is helping them to do so if they so wish. China must respect global human rights and act according to international law. Expansive countries must be observed closely by a strengthened United Nations for violations of international standards and sanctions implemented if warranted.

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