In a joint submission to a 2017 enquiry by the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, Anson Chan, Hong Kong’s former Chief Secretary, and Martin Lee, founder of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, stated that the “precious rights and freedoms guaranteed under ‘one country, two systems’ such as freedom of the press, of publication, and of academic thoughts, are being chipped away”. A report published by the Henry Jackson Society this week confirms this, showing that the legal, press and political rights are steadily being eroded by the Hong Kong Government under the direction of Beijing.
As the Conservative Party gears up to choose the next prime minister, it is becoming apparent that a different kind of leadership is required, one that puts Britain’s principles and values back in the centre of the relationship with China. The UK has, for too long, prioritised trade in the relationship. As a consequence, whenever China has pushed back – on, for example, Hinkley Point, Britain’s South China Sea transits or the banning of Huawei from the 5G network – the response has been recklessly weak. For too long, the British Lion has been a paper tiger.