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Welcoming Hong Kong residents

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This week, the US State Department issued an advisory note to US companies operating in Hong Kong highlighting risks that emerge from the implementation of the Chinese government’s National Security Law. US Secretary of State, Anthony J Blinken, has highlighted the “…persistent and politically motivated campaign against the free press, imprisoned Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, and forced the closure of that publication – a bastion of independent reporting. Beijing has chipped away at Hong Kong’s reputation of accountable, transparent governance and respect for individual freedoms, and has broken its promise to leave Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy unchanged for 50 years.”

Many Hong Kongers will feel that they are pawns in a looming showdown between China and the United States. Many are deciding that now is the time to emigrate including to the United Kingdom. Conscious that many former citizens of Hong Kong are settling in our community, I tabled a motion at last week’s meeting of Richmond Council welcoming Hong Kong citizens to our area. I was gratified the motion was passed unanimously.

I would encourage councillors (Liberal Democrat or otherwise) to look at the numbers of Hong Kongers arriving in their areas and consider bringing similar motions to their local authorities. Here is an edited version of what I had to say:

I would argue that, just as murder on the streets of Minneapolis impacts on us, so does the imposition of Chinese state authoritarianism in Hong Kong. Many residents will have close ties to Hong Kong through family, business interests or pre-1997 postings in the territory. The last governor of Hong Kong is, of course, resident in Barnes. We have unique, historical, and moral duties to the people of Hong Kong.

My wife is British Born Chinese, but her family are originally from Yuen Long, a town in the New Territories. It is a fairly workaday place close to the Chinese border. It is a place I have visited frequently with my family. The metro station is normally a peaceful but bustling place.

In June 2019 that changed. Dozens of men in white shirts carrying sticks, faces obscured by balaclavas, beat groups of commuters taking part in a peaceful protest.

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