Beijing breached the Sino-British Joint Declaration by giving Hong Kong powers to disqualify pro-democracy lawmakers, the UK's foreign minister said on Thursday.
"China has once again broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. The UK will stand up for the people of Hong Kong, and call out violations of their rights and freedoms," he added. "With our international partners, we will hold China to the obligations it freely assumed under international law."
The statement comes after China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee, which held meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, passed a resolution stating that those who support Hong Kong’s independence or refuse to acknowledge China’s sovereignty over the city, or who commit acts that threaten national security or ask external forces to interfere in the city’s affairs, should be disqualified from serving as a lawmaker on the Hong Kong Legislative Council, according to China's state-owned Xinhua News Agency.
Hong Kong immediately moved to disqualify four pro-democracy legislators on Wednesday, triggering the remaining 15 pro-democracy legislators to begin resigning en masse in protest.
Most of the 15 did not attend a regular session of the legislature on Thursday, and some later handed in resignation letters to the Legislative Council’s secretariat.
Raab on Wednesday said the removal of the four pro-democracy legislators is "a further assault on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and freedoms".
Considering SanctionsBritain summoned China's ambassador, Liu Xiaoming, on Thursday to express its deep concerns, and Raab's deputy, Nigel Adams, told Parliament that it was considering possible sanctions on individuals over Beijing's actions.
"We will continue to consider designations under our Magnitsky-style sanctions regime," said Adams, Britain's minister for Asia. He was asked by lawmakers if Britain would sanction Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Third BreachThis is the third time the Chinese communist regime had breached the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the UK government said.
She said she hoped this breach would be a "one off, and never be repeated".
Wilson is currently the UK ambassador to China.
The second time the Chinese regime breached the Joint Declaration, the UK government said, was the imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong.