The UK’s relations with China have been rocked over recent months, and China’s new security law in Hong Kong prompted a sharp response from Britain. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office launched its most robust and turbulent 6-month report on Hong Kong on Friday, warning China to “reconsider, to step back from the brink and respect Hong Kong’s autonomy and respect its own international obligations. The UK will not look the other way when it comes to the people of Hong Kong, we will stand by them, and we will live up to our responsibilities”.
The law threatens to outlaw freedom of expression in the city and could potentially violate the Sino-British Joint Declaration that ensures political autonomy for Hong Kong until 2047.
Despite the implications of inciting wrath from Beijing, UK MPs and Peers joined an online rally on Saturday marking the one year anniversary of the Hong Kong protest movement.
The MPs including, Stewart McDonald and Alicia Kearns, called on international governments to rethink their dependence on China, avoid technology with Chinese links, including Huawei, Zoom, and WeChat and protect privacy and data.
Lord Adonis said at the speech: “Just as under Stalin we were all Berliners, so too under Xi Jinping must we all be Hongkongers.”
And Fellow of Hong Kong Watch Luke de Pulford told how the UK had, “a lifetime of shared values and a lifetime of Standing with Hong Kong”.
The Chinese Communist Party, CCP, tabloid The Global Times has warned that the British economy faces “substantial damage” if the UK government does not change course.
The news site told how Beijing would “strike back” in “areas where the UK steps out of line”.
The key areas that the UK economy could be compromised would be through those corporations that China has the greatest leverage over, it suggested.
Most notably HSBC, and Chinese investment in nuclear plants in the UK.
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He said: “Some UK politicians still cling to the Cold War and colonial mentality, and refuse to accept the fact that Hong Kong has been returned to China.”
However, Britain’s treatment in recent days has still not reached the pitch of Chinese attacks on some other Western allies, notably Australia and the US.
Euan Graham, a former British diplomat and senior fellow in Asia-Pacific security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore said: “China is picking fights on all fronts.”
“Their diplomacy is very confrontational.
“There are no calming voices on the Chinese side right now.
“They have to follow the path Xi has chosen.
“In Hong Kong, they have calculated that they can ride roughshod over the treaty agreements.
“But the offer of passports has clearly got them rattled.
“And Britain is not alone when it comes to China right now.
“Across Europe, countries are waking up to the many strings attached to any economic dealings with Beijing.”