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Hongkong Motion passed at 1st Libdem Virtual Conference

September 30, 2020 1:28 PM

Cllr Marguerita MortonExtract of a 3 minute speech by Cllr Marguerita Morton:

"Conference I am a Councillor from Tunbridge Wells and a member of the Chinese Liberal Democrats. I am British citizen of ethnic Chinese origin, living in the UK, since 1964. I came to this country as a child of 11 because my adopted parents thought coming to live in the UK would be a better future for me and for my educational development.

When I left HK, it was not a democracy in any sense of the word. It is right to point out that in the 155 years since China was forced to cede HK to Britain in an unequal treaty after the Opium wars, it was never given universal suffrage.

The Chinese people living in HK made up about 94% of the population. They were mostly refugees fleeing from China seeking a better future for themselves and their children.

It is probably an unknown fact that the Chinese Communists supported the British during the Second World War and acted as spies for them warning of the coming Japanese invasion. Inspite of this, Britain supported Chiang Kai Chek, a Nationalist, after the war. By and large, the people of HK went about their business and cared very little about its governance. They were happy to live in peace, to be able to set up businesses and to prosper.

The new generation, who have not experienced British rule since 1997, did not experience the prejudice that was based on the colour of ones' skin. The Chinese were excluded from educational opportunities, top jobs, membership of clubs and even inter racial marriage before WW2.

Despite all of the terrible history of HK, I would still vote for the motion because the one thing that I care about most is protection of international human rights. Political, economic, cultural, social and family rights and freedoms and the freedom of person are written into The Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The special features in the provisions concerning Hong Kong residents' rights and freedoms in the Basic Law boil down to the following two basic points:
(1) The law provides multi-level protection for Hong Kong residents' rights and freedoms.
(2) The law provides for the Chief Executive to be the head of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and accountable to the
Central People's Government.

Whilst I agree with one of our speakers that the Security Law has legitimacy under the Basic Law, it does not give free rein to the Central People's Government to trample all over the rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers by use of such draconian measures.

Conference, I will therefore ask you to vote to support the Motion and the Amendment."

The full text of the motion is set out below:

Conference notes that:

i) The UK and China signed the Sino-British Declaration in 1984; it was lodged at the United Nations, and included a 50 year long commitment to ensure that Hong Kong functions under a 'one country, two systems' framework in order to uphold Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy.

ii) The late Lord Ashdown campaigned to provide the right of abode to the people of Hong Kong if China ever reneged on the promises enshrined in the Handover Declaration.

iii) In the last 18 months, up to two million people, across different socio-economic backgrounds, have taken to the streets of Hong Kong, calling for democratic reforms as well as protesting against the Extradition Bill introduced in February 2019.

iv) Investigations by the Hong Kong government's Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) into reports of police use of rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons, and firing live ammunition lacked the power to subpoena witnesses, and a panel of foreign experts working on the investigation stood down after they claimed their concerns went unresolved.

v) Beijing passed the 'national security law' on 30 June 2020; the law criminalises activities including undermining the power of the central government, as well as giving the National Peoples' Congress the power of interpretation of Hong Kong law.

vi) The UK Government have stated that the law is a violation of the Joint Declaration, and have pledged that British National (Overseas) status holders and their dependents will be eligible to live and work in the UK for five years, after which time they can apply for settled status, and after a further year, seek citizenship.

vii) There are currently almost three million BNO status holders and dependents; the BNO status scheme closed in 1997 and the status cannot be inherited, so many young Hong Kongers are not eligible.

viii) Conference regrets that, following the disqualification of 12 candidates, including six elected politicians, the Hong Kong government has postponed the holding of Legislative Council elections scheduled for 6 September 2020 for a year on the pretext of safety concerns over COVID-19; the use of the new security law to eliminate political opponents serves to undermine the rights of Hong Kong people to freely choose their political representatives.

Conference believes that:

a) The UK has a moral and legal duty to ensure that democracy, the rule of law and human rights are upheld in Hong Kong.

b) The UK must stand with the people of Hong Kong in their fight for human rights, calling for an independent investigation into police violence, and for universal suffrage in fair elections.

c) The so-called security law represents a flagrant violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the UK must therefore ensure the people of Hong Kong have the right to live in the UK so that their rights and freedoms are protected.

Conference calls for the UK Government to:

1. Expand their proposals so that all Hong Kongers are given the right of abode and a pathway to citizenship, regardless of whether or not they have BNO status; as well as to provide an international 'lifeboat' system if the situation in the region deteriorates.

2. Help ensure a truly transparent, independent investigation into the protests, including police violence in the region; and to call for the appointment of a UN Special Envoy or Rapporteur on Hong Kong.

3. Work with other countries, including the G7 and the EU, to encourage Beijing to retract the 'security law', which contravenes the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

4. Enact Magnitsky legislation and encourage mutual action from other countries to hold Hong Kong and Chinese officials responsible to account in the event of any gross breaches of human rights in Hong Kong.

5. Monitor the impact of the new security law on the rights and freedoms guaranteed the people of Hong Kong under the Joint Declaration and use its influence to persuade the Hong Kong government to hold legitimate Legislative Council elections as soon as possible.