Tory MPs' fury over talks on business ties with Hong Kong
Tory MPs’ fury as trade minister Dominic Johnson holds talks on renewing Britain’s business ties with Hong Kong in first visit to city since China’s crackdown on civil rights
- It will be the first visit to Hong Kong by a UK minister since China’s crackdown
Tory MPs have reacted with fury as the Government prepares to hold talks over renewing Britain’s business ties with Hong Kong.
Trade minister Lord Dominic Johnson is due to discuss boosting trade in fintech and financial services with the city’s representatives.
It will be the first visit to Hong Kong by a UK minister since China’s crackdown on civil rights in the former British territory.
The Government has consistently condemned Beijing’s actions in the special administrative region and criticised the imposition of new national security laws.
Senior Conservatives warned Lord Johnson’s visit to Hong Kong was ‘not a good look’ and questioned why Britain would ‘prostrate’ itself in front of China.
The fresh row follows a controversy over the attendance of Chinese vice-president Han Zheng – who is blamed the restrictions on freedom in Hong Kong – at King Charles’s Coronation on Saturday.
Trade minister Lord Dominic Johnson is due to discuss boosting trade in fintech and financial services with Hong Kong’s representatives.
Senior Conservatives Sir Iain Duncan Smith (left) and Tim Loughton hit out at Lord Johnson’s visit to Hong Kong
The fresh row follows a controversy over the attendance of Chinese vice-president Han Zheng (left) – who is blamed the restrictions on freedom in Hong Kong – at King Charles’s Coronation
Speaking to Politico about Lord Johnson’s visit, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘Why is it that we are about to prostrate ourselves in front of a government that treats us like dirt?’
Fellow Conservative backbencher Tim Loughton added: ‘Not a good look, following hard on the heels of the architect of suppression of the people of Hong Kong being feted at the Coronation.’
Both Sir Iain and Mr Loughton are among a group of MPs to have been sanctioned by China in recent years for raising concerns about human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Luke de Pulford, of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, described Lord Johnson’s visit as ‘another body blow to MPs on all sides of the House of Commons who have spent a lot of time and energy to raise awareness about Beijing’s human rights abuses — and been sanctioned for it’
‘But it’s even worse for the 150,000 Hong Kongers recently moved to the UK who see this for what it is: the UK selling out,’ he added.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly held talks with Mr Han on Friday ahead of the Coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
He said he had ‘made plain’ Britain’s views on Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan during the meeting, while also discussing UK-Chinese cooperation ‘on climate change, economic ties and people-to-people links’.
Ahead of his trip, Lord Johnson said: ‘Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading international finance centres, and my visit will promote cooperation on sectors where we both excel – from financial services and infrastructure to clean growth and sustainability.
‘The UK’s ties with Hong Kong run deep, not only in our shared history and connection between our people, but in business and our desire to succeed.
‘For future generations we have an obligation to engage – robustly and also constructively – and our engagement with Hong Kong is an important part of that.
‘I am clear that we will not look the other way on Hong Kong or duck our historic responsibilities to its people, and that we will continue to stand up for them, call out the violation of their freedoms and hold China to their international obligations.’
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