Embassy Spokesperson's Remarks on the Joint Letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Seven Former Foreign Secretaries of the UK

Source:Chinese Embassy in UK Published: 2020/6/3 20:32:07

Question: A few days ago, seven former Foreign Secretaries of the UK sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, expressing concern about the situation in Hong Kong, and urging the Prime Minister to raise this issue at the upcoming G7 meeting and to formally institute an International Contact Group to monitor the situation in Hong Kong, drawing inspiration from the one formed in the 1990s to monitor the developments in the Balkans. What is the comment of the Chinese Embassy in the UK?

Embassy Spokesperson: Former UK Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, banded together with six other former Foreign Secretaries, sent a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, making irresponsible remarks on the national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR. China expresses grave concern about and strong opposition to such flagrant interference in Hong Kong affairs, which are China's internal affairs. I would like to reiterate the following:

First, Hong Kong affairs brook no external interference. Non-interference in other country's internal affairs is a basic principle of international law and a basic norm governing modern international relations, which must be observed by all countries. Hong Kong was returned to China on 1 July 1997 and has since been a special administrative region of China. The national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR is purely China's internal affair, in which no foreign country has the right to interfere. It is wishful thinking that China would swallow the bitter fruit of external interference. China will respond firmly to any external interference in its internal affairs by any country or organization in any form.

Second, the national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR falls within the legislative power of the nation and the responsibility of the Central Government of China. As is in all countries, China and the UK included, it is the central government that is responsible for making laws on national security. Through Article 23 of the Basic Law, the Central Government of China authorizes the Hong Kong SAR to enact laws on safeguarding national security. This authorization, however, does not deprive the Central Government of its due responsibility and right to safeguard national security. Twenty-three years after Hong Kong's return, Article 23 of the Basic Law has been severely stigmatized and demonized, and no legislation has been enacted, leaving the Hong Kong SAR "defenseless" in terms of national security. In particular, since the turbulence over the proposed legislative amendments last year, anti-China forces seeking to disrupt Hong Kong, colluding with external forces, have carried out separatist activities that threaten national unity, which gravely undermined China's sovereignty, security and development interests. In light of this, it is the right and responsibility of the National People's Congress (NPC) of China, as the highest organ of state power in China, to plug this loophole that compromises national security in Hong Kong through legislation in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law. In fact, this has won full understanding and support from the international community. Countries and international organisations, such as Russia, Serbia, Cambodia, Pakistan, the DPRK, Vietnam and the African Union, have expressed support for this legislative action of China.

Third, the allegation that the NPC decision is a "breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration" is a false proposition. The Chinese and UK governments signed the Joint Declaration in December 1984 to address the issue of the handover of Hong Kong to China. The rights and obligations of the UK laid out in the Joint Declaration were all fulfilled at the time of the handover on 1 July 1997. Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs. The national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR is by no means a "breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration". Any country who uses the Joint Declaration as an excuse to interfere in Hong Kong affairs is going against the principles of international law that there should be respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in other country's internal affairs. With regard to the issue of "British Nationals Overseas (BNO) passport", I want to point out that the UK explicitly has pledged in an MOU exchanged with China that BNO passport holders who are Chinese citizens residing in Hong Kong shall not have the right of abode in the UK. If the UK is bent on changing this unilaterally, it will not only go against its own position and promise but also violate international law and the basic norms governing international relations.

Fourth, the national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR facilitates the better implementation of "One Country, Two Systems" and helps safeguard the rights and freedom of the Hong Kong residents. Since the handover of Hong Kong, the policies of "One Country, Two Systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy have been implemented faithfully, enabling the Hong Kong residents to enjoy unprecedented rights and freedom. The Chinese Government will remain committed to implementing these policies fully and faithfully. I must emphasize that "One Country, Two Systems" is a complete concept. "One Country" is the precondition and basis for "Two Systems". "Two Systems" is subordinate to and derived from "One Country". The national security legislation for the Hong Kong SAR is in line with "One Country, Two Systems". It will improve the institutions and mechanisms that are essential to the implementation of the Constitution and the Basic Law in the Hong Kong SAR, and ensure the steady and sustained development of "One Country, Two Systems". It also answers the call of Hong Kong residents for better security safeguards so that they can enjoy and exercise their statutory rights and freedom, and their aspiration for a safer, better and more prosperous Hong Kong.

We urge the relevant UK politicians to accept the fact that Hong Kong is now part of China, observe the principle of non-interference in other country's internal affairs, and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, which are China's internal affairs, in any form, by any means.

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