The Conservative candidate running for Mayor of London has pledged to end London’s twinning with Beijing and welcome Hongkongers to the capital if he wins the mayoral election next May.
In the letter, Bailey said that if he wins his bid for mayor of London, Hongkongers would be “welcomed with open arms,” be provided with a free information service, assisted to find Cantonese-speaking lawyers, and given advice on housing and jobs.
Bailey also said that if elected he would make “human rights a key part” of his mayoral agenda.
“Your rights are being taken away. Your freedoms are being curtailed. And your autonomy is under threat,” he told Hongkongers.
A Tough DecisionBailey empathized with British National Overseas (BNO) citizens in Hong Kong who might be thinking of leaving the city following the recent crackdown on freedoms due to Beijing’s new National Security Law.
The law bypasses the local legislature and criminalizes behaviors deemed to be a threat to China’s national security—broadly categorized as secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces—with offenses punishable by up to life in prison.
“I know that it’s a tough decision to face. Leaving the place you call home to live in a city nearly 6,000 miles away,” he said.
Bailey said his Jamaican grandparents had faced the same decision after fighting for Britain in World War II 70 years ago, but ultimately decided to move to London.
“But trust me, I’m grateful they did,” he added.
De-twinning OppositionOn Thursday, Bailey’s explicit call to end London’s twinning with Beijing met with some opposition in the London Assembly, which holds the London mayor to account and champions issues for Londoners.
His motion to end the twinning over “human rights and other abuses by the Chinese Communist Party,” was narrowly defeated in the Assembly by just one vote, with Labour Assembly members voting against and the Green Party Assembly members abstaining.
Sahota’s motion also condemned “the increase in Sinophobia and victimization of Chinese and British Chinese people in London following the outbreak of COVID-19.” It asked London’s mayor to press the Home Secretary to bring in a Hate Crime Action Plan and a targeted campaign against anti-Chinese sentiment.
‘Precious Chinese Community’In supporting the motion, Bailey said, “Of course you can rely on the support of the Conservatives for any motion that looks at combating xenophobia at home and abroad.”
But Bailey said that he wanted to draw a distinction between his own motion and Labour’s “broader approach.”
He said his motion had resulted from talking to young Chinese people he had met who wanted London to “send a clear message” to the Chinese Communist Party by rescinding the twinning arrangement between London and Beijing.
His motion would show what London will do to help what Bailey referred to as the “very, very, precious Chinese community in London and beyond.”
Assembly Member Andrew Boff, who seconded Bailey’s motion, gave an impassioned speech, saying, “This motion will enable us either to be an ally to the Chinese Communist Party or the Chinese people. You can’t have both.”
Nathan Law, a former Hong Kong legislator and pro-democracy activist, wrote to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last month.