China attacked over its ‘weak’ defence of new Hong Kong security law – ‘Totally absurd!’

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China’s controversial new national security law has sparked fury among the international community, and the UK in particular, as it appears to violate the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. Beijing defended the legislation by claiming that they hadn’t broken a treaty because the Joint Declaration was only a declaration. However, former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who was involved in the final negotiations with China over the transfer of Hong Kong in 1997, dismissed the justification to LBC.

He said: “It’s not even a weak defence, it’s totally absurd.

“This isn’t a difference of opinion, there is a treaty.

“Not only is it called a treaty, it was signed by the British and Chinese Government. Both agreed it should be deposited as a treaty with the UN.

“They know it’s complete rubbish but they are so embarrassed, I suspect, by the knowledge that they are breaking a treaty, they have to find a spurious excuse that convinces no one including themselves.”

Sir Malcolm said the people of Hong Kong have “every reason” to be anxious about the new security law, calling it “a very very grim day indeed.”

He warned: “The transfer of Hong Kong to China happened in 1997 and for the first 23 years, although China made several attempts to limit Hong Kong’s autonomy, they were always defeated because they faced the almost united protests of hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers prepared to come out on to the streets peacefully and democratically to show their opposition.

“Since Xi Jinping became the leader of China, he has become much more aggressive on a whole spectrum of foreign policy, but also in relation to Hong Kong.

“What is so unacceptable about what has been done in the last few days is that the Chinese rubber-stamp Parliament pushed through some legislation, the people of Hong Kong weren’t even allowed to see the details of that before it became law.”

The former Foreign Secretary added: “How arrogant and offensive can you be to not even allow the people who are going to be subjected to your law to even see the details of that until it’s too late to try and influence it?

“Of course what it also provides is that the interpretation of this national security bill will not be handled by the normal judges in Hong Kong, who are politically independent, but by judges picked by China’s representative, Carrie Lam.

“She’ll obviously be required to pick people where it will be inconceivable for them to vote against Beijing’s wishes.”

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Beijing and the Hong Kong Government have promised that Hong Kong’s traditional freedoms (of speech, of assembly, of protest) will be protected.

However, July 1 saw police arrest over 300 protesters under the broad applications of the law.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has accused China of a “clear and serious breach” of the joint declaration signed with the UK.

He pledged that the Government would “honour” its commitment to citizens of the former British colony.

Up to three million people in Hong Kong could be eligible to live, work or study in the UK.

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