Amid the ongoing crisis and protests in Hong Kong, Britain on Wednesday said that it will continue to defend its position as a co-signatory to the Hong Kong declaration. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration was still in force. “The Joint Declaration is a legally binding treaty between the UK and China that remains as valid today as it was when it was signed and ratified over 30 years ago,” she said.
“As a co-signatory, the UK government will continue to defend our position,” the spokeswoman added.
The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration laid out rules of how Britain would end its rule over Hong Kong before it was handed back to China in 1997, and also guaranteed the city’s rights and freedoms.
The former British colony is witnessing massive protests as many young protestors took to the streets to disapprove a new law that would allow people from Hong Kong to be extradited to China. After extreme clashes between the protestors and the police, the head of the Hong Kong government, Carrie Lam, was forced to temporarily shelve the extradition law.
ACTIVISTS CALL ON G-20 LEADERS
Hong Kong activists and protests called on the leaders of G-20 summit to help “liberate” the city. Holding placards that read “Please Liberate Hong Kong”, more than a thousand protesters marched to major foreign consulates in the city on Wednesday, urging the leaders to support the full scrapping of a controversial extradition bill. “As long as the government doesn’t withdraw the bill, and they refuse to respond, then we will keep on fighting,” a 19-year-old protestor said. “We want to make some noise during the G20 meeting, to let other countries discuss the issues in Hong Kong,” she added.
BACK HONG KONG
At the US consulate, protesters handed over a petition asking President Donald Trump to “Back Hong Kong at the G20 Summit”. They urged Trump in his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping to back a full withdrawal of the bill and an independent probe into the actions of Hong Kong police against protesters.
The protesters, some wearing “Liberate Hong Kong” T-shirts, also marched to the British consulate where a man held up a sign: “Free HK from China colonisation”.
BRITAIN BANS SALE OF CROWD-CONTROL EQUIPMENT
Britain on Tuesday banned the sale of crowd-control equipment to the Hong Kong Police after they clashed with the protestors in the city. The country also called for an investigation in the matter. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is one of the two contenders in line for the Prime Ministership of Britain, said, “What happens in Hong Kong is, I think for all of us, a litmus test of the direction of travel that China goes in. I today urge the Hong Kong … government to establish a robust, independent investigation into the violent scenes that we saw.” Hunt, while announcing the ban, said, “The outcome of that investigation will inform our assessment of future export licence applications to the Hong Kong Police.”
CHINA TO NOT ALLOW HONG KONG ISSUE TO BE DISCUSSED IN G-20
China’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Jun said on Monday that China will not allow the Group of 20 nations to discuss the Hong Kong issue at the summit. “What I can tell you for sure is that G20 will not discuss the Hong Kong issue. We will not allow G20 to discuss the Hong Kong issue,” Zhang said, when asked whether Trump and Xi would discuss Hong Kong at the G20.
“Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region. Hong Kong matters are purely an internal affair due China. No foreign country has a right to interfere. No matter at what venue, using any method, we will not permit any country or person to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Zhang added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump will meet at the G20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka this week amid heightened trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
Hong Kong has been governed under a “one country, two systems” formula since then, allowing freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China but not a fully democratic vote. Many accuse Beijing of extensive meddling, including obstruction of democratic reforms, interference with elections and of being behind the disappearance of five Hong Kong-based booksellers, starting in 2015, who specialised in works critical of Chinese leaders. Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo said protests would continue if Lam did not scrap the bill.
WHAT IS THE EXTRADITION BILL?
The controversial extradition bill, which has sparked massive protests in the British colony of Hong Kong, would allow suspected criminals to be extradited to the mainland to face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party. Critics say the planned extradition law could threaten Hong Kong’s rule of law and its international reputation as an Asian financial hub. Some Hong Kong tycoons have already started moving personal wealth offshore.
(With inputs from agencies)