UK weighs economic sanctions against China over Beijing continued breach of Hong Kong treaty

Following China breaking its bilateral treaty with Britain with the imposition of its draconian measures garbed through its new security laws on Hong Kong, Britain stated it is considering the imposition of sanctions against it as part of its response to Beijing.

In 1997, the British flag was lowered over Hong Kong when the colony was handed back to China following more than 150 years of British rule following Britain victory over China in the First Opium War.

Under the terms of the handing over, Hong Kong’s autonomy was guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” agreement which is enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“Beijing’s imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong constitutes a clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration,” said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. “China has once again broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.”

Britain has summoned China’s ambassador, Liu Xiaoming, to express its deep concerns. Raab’s deputy, Nigel Adams has also informed parliament that options are open towards imposing potential sanctions on individuals over recent Chinese actions.

“We will continue to consider designations under our Magnitsky-style sanctions regime,” said Adams, Britain’s minister for Asia, in referrence to sanctions similar to those imposed on those deemed responsible for human rights abuses under the U.S. Magnitski Act.

When asked whether Britain would sanction Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, he responded by saying it would not be helpful to speculate on names at the current stage.

The Chinese embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The European Union has called on Beijing to immediately reverse the new rules, which it said undermines the autonomy of  Hong Kong.

Earlier this week, the United States, which has already imposed sanctions on Lam and other Chinese officials over China’s crackdown in Hongkong, warned of further steps.

U.S. national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said China had “flagrantly violated its international commitments” and Washington would “continue to identify and sanction those responsible for extinguishing Hong Kong’s freedom”.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the Chinese Communist Party of using “a twisted vision of patriotism … to stifle freedom and the call for democracy”.

“We will hold accountable the people responsible for these actions and policies,” said Pompeo in a statement.

As part of its response, Canada said, it would make it easier for Hong Kong youth to study and work in Canada.

Stirring the hornet’s nest

Pro-democracy opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong stated on Wednesday that they would resign in protest against the dismissal of four of their colleagues from the city assembly following Beijing giving local authorities more powers to curb dissent.

Earlier the China’s Communist Party through the parliament adopted a resolution allowing Hong Kong’s executive to expel lawmakers who are pushing for Hong Kong’s independence, getting assistance from people abroad and supposedly threatening national security, without routing such expulsions through courts, as is the normal practice.

China’s practice of not walking the talk is once visible here, said Opposition members of the Hong Kong assembly. Beijing is whittling away freedoms and institutional checks and balances, despite its promise that Hong Kong will have a high degree of autonomy.

Meanwhile China continues to sputter out its propaganda, denying that it has curbed individual rights and freedoms in Hong Kong despite a Himalayan evidence that authorities in Hong, with Beijing’s backing, have moved swiftly to stifle dissent following anti-government protests which flared in June 2019 which had plunged the city into crisis.

Britain has now recognized China’s breaking of its Joint Declaration, not once, but on three separate occasions, this includes the imposition of the national security legislation over Hong Kong which it introduced this year. “The UK will stand up for the people of Hong Kong, and call out violations of their rights and freedoms,” said Raab.



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