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Alistair Carmichael on the need to keep our promises to Hong Kong

April 11, 2019 3:29 PM

Below is an excerpt from a piece on Politics Home that Alistair Carmichael wrote. For the full piece click here.

Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong

Back in 2014, the Umbrella Movement started a 79 day protest movement of passive resistance and non-violent direct action seeking free and fair elections in Hong Kong. At its peak the centre of Hong Kong was brought to a standstill by massive occupations. While ultimately unsuccessful, it was a display of peaceful protest that shook the Chinese government to the core and, as such, was never going to be allowed to go unanswered.

This week nine of the Umbrella Movement's leaders were convicted of rarely used public order offences from the days of colonial rule. Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, described it as being "appallingly divisive to use anachronistic common law charges in a vengeful pursuit of political events which took place in 2014".

The response of our own Foreign Office was a silence. How embarrassing, and not for the first time.

It was only 1997 that the UK handed Hong Kong back to China. It was a handover that allowed the UK to divest itself of another vestige of empire while entering into a treaty with China which sought to provide autonomy of the former colony and a continued progression towards democracy. It was Chris Patten's not insubstantial legacy which gave both Britain and China obligations for fifty years until 2047.

However, the "one country two systems framework" today looks rather insubstantial, fragile and battered by Chinese authoritarianism and British acquiescence.

The article continues https://www.politicshome.com/news/world/opinion/house-commons/103194/alistair-carmichael-mp-people-hong-kong-look-uk-keep.

Alistair Carmichael is the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland