Hong Kong’s freedoms have come under “increasing pressure” from the Chinese regime since the National Security Law came into effect, the UK government said in its latest report on the former British colony.
In the “Six-monthly report on Hong Kong” published on Dec. 14, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) said: “Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press came under increasing pressure” following the imposition of the National Security Law in June 2020.
The erosion of liberty in Hong Kong is an affront to freedom and democracy.
🇬🇧 continues to make clear our opposition to the National Security Law & stands for right for people to live free from oppression. Read our six-monthly report on Hong Kong 🇭🇰 👇https://t.co/POVJDXn3x2
— Liz Truss (@trussliz) December 14, 2021
In a foreword to the report, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss confirmed that “China now in a state of ongoing non-compliance with its international obligations under the U.N.-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
She wrote: “The mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities have used the law and related institutions against all opposition, free press and civil society in Hong Kong. This curtailing of space for the free expression of alternative views continues to weaken checks and balances on executive power.”
Truss said Britain’s assessment of Hong Kong’s judicial independence is “increasingly finely balanced.” But she said she believes that “British judges can continue to play a positive role in supporting this judicial independence,” though she pledged to “follow developments in this area closely.”
She said the UK had taken “three clear steps” in response to the National Security Law, which include the introduction of a bespoke immigration path for British Nationals (Overseas), the suspension of its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and the extension of its arms embargo on mainland China to cover Hong Kong.
The foreign secretary said she is “proud” that the UK government made the “historic decision” to open a new visa route for Hongkongers with BN(O) status and their eligible family members.
Truss revealed that 88,000 people had applied for visas under this scheme by the end of September. “On behalf of the government, I welcome them warmly to the UK,” she wrote.
Commenting on the FCDO report, UK lawmakers in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong said it is “positive” to hear that 88,000 Hongkongers have been able to seek refuge in the UK.
But the lawmakers stressed that “our responsibilities do not end at our borders.”
“What must now follow is sanctions for those officials who are abusing their power to execute a brutal campaign of political repression,” they said.