It’s Time for Tangible Support for Hong Kong

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A famous Chinese idiom story is about Liu Bang agreeing on a truce with Xiang Yu; both then forging a treaty of brotherhood. In reality, it was a scheme against Xiang Yu, who is a better battle commander.

Xiang let his guards down and was defeated by Liu. Thus, beginning the Han dynasty. The story is admired as a tactic and recognised with the Chinese idiom 「出爾反爾」, meaning “going back on one’s words”.

Since signing the Joint Declaration which transferred sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China, China has reneged her promises numerous times. The most salient perhaps is the kidnapping of the Causeway Bay Booksellers. Lee Bo, a British Citizen, is one of the victim who was illegally extraterritoriality arrested and detained in Mainland China.

Withal, other breaches of the treaty includes withdrawing the consent of the people of Hong Kong during the drafting of the Basic Law. Beijing has previously expressed goodwill that the elected pre-handover Legislative Council will transition post 1997 till the next General Election, and further guaranteeing that the people of Hong Kong will have a represented voice in drafting the Basic Law.

However, after TianAnMen, these promises were withdrawn. The elected Legislative Council was dissolved on 30th June 1997 and replaced with one that have been meeting across the border in Shenzhen. Whereas the Basic Law drafting committee was also moved to Shenzhen and drafted without a referendum or further consultations.          

Thereby, it is time to stop relying on Beijing’s goodwill but to be resolute in our commitment to the Joint Declaration, underlying the framework where the people of Hong Kong are to govern Hong Kong with universal rights to freedom, the rule of law and maintaining way of life.

The Hong Kong Bill proposed by Alistair Carmichael MP will provide the confidence as Hong Kongers continue their determined fight for democracy. It also demonstrates Britain is ready to undertake tangible assistance to ensure the way of life of Hong Kong can progress.

The tangible encouragement from the Liberal Democrats now is to help forge the Bill into the Hong Kong Act. The Private Members’ Bill requires support from the Government, extensive groundwork campaigning and a bill team.

While this is by no means an elementary feat, the Hong Kong (War Wives and Widows Act) and the British Nationality (Hong Kong) 1997 Act have once begun on the same footing. It will also carry on Paddy Ashdown’s legacy in liberal, social democracy; courage and vision that constituents have always respected the Liberal Democrats. 

We can no longer ignore human rights abuses. One year on, Hong Kong is not giving up and no one is backing down from the fight for democracy; rights and freedoms they were destined for under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’. Liberal Democrats, please support Motion F4 at the Spring Conference. Vote to support Hong Kong at 9:30 a.m, Saturday morning.

Find out more on the upcoming Hong Kong elections scheduled for September in this article.

* Nicholas Chan is a member of Sevenoaks, Dartford and Gravesend Liberal Democrats who migrated from Hong Kong under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Selection Scheme the Liberal Democrats campaigned for after 1989. He writes on human rights issue in Hong Kong and China while preparing for solicitor qualification.

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