Britain has a duty to help Hong Kong out of this dark moment

Jun 15, 2019 by

by Chris Patten, Guardian:

China’s power grab via a new extradition bill must be opposed by governments around the world, especially Britain’s.

It took something out of the ordinary to provoke a million people in Hong Kong to take to the streets to demonstrate against proposed new extradition rules. Roughly one-sixth of the population demonstrated peacefully: families, young and old, lawyers, academics, students, professionals and manual workers.

What caused such an outpouring against a piece of legislation? Quite simply, the people of Hong Kong – not British, but Hong Kong Chinese – have seen their government connive with the Communist regime in Beijing to undermine their way of life and freedoms.

Britain’s departure from Hong Kong in 1997 – a colony we acquired in woeful circumstances – was done on the basis of a brilliantly imaginative proposal put forward by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. Hong Kong would return to the control of mainland China, but on the basis of “one country, two systems”. Hong Kong’s high degree of local autonomy would continue to be based on the rule of law and on the freedoms associated with a plural open society.

By and large things did not go too badly in the 10 years or so after the UK left Hong Kong. China, on the whole, kept its word which had been incorporated in a document called the joint declaration, which was lodged as an international treaty at the United Nations. The idea was that Hong Kong would remain as it was until 2047.

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