Experts are concerned Hong Kong is a ‘canary in the coalmine’ for Taiwan, and about Chinese ownership of UK’s critical infrastructure.
I’ve called for an audit of UK’s relationship with China and a new strategy to replace failed ‘Golden Era’.
It’s also time for Magnitsky sanctions.
Stephen Kinnock: Beijing’s assault on Hong Kong’s electoral system is the latest breach of the Sino-British declaration and is viewed by experts as the final nail in the coffin of Hong Kong’s democracy. It follows the arrest and charging of 47 opposition politicians, 32 of whom were refused bail. As a signatory to the Sino-British declaration, the UK has not only a legal duty but a moral responsibility to stand up for the democratic rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. As parliamentarians, we will feel a sense of profound sadness as we witness this steady suffocation of democracy. For the past few months, the UK Government have just been going through the motions, so may I ask the Minister these questions?
Labour welcomes the BNO offer, but there appears to have been very little planning, and a family of four need £16,000 up front. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that the scheme is accessible to all BNOs, and what steps are the Government taking to support their integration into British society?
Hong Kong Watch’s latest report describes Hong Kong as being a “canary in the coalmine” of China’s expansionism, so what assessment have the UK Government made of the threats facing Taiwan, given that Chinese fighter jets and bombers buzzed Taiwanese airspace more than 300 times last year?
China’s growing presence in the UK’s critical national infrastructure clearly has implications for our own national security. What assessment has the Minister made of the role of the China General Nuclear Power group, which owns one third of Hinkley Point, but has been blacklisted in the US for stealing nuclear secrets?
The Conservative party is deeply divided over China, but we cannot afford any more dither and delay. Will the Minister work across Government to undertake an audit of the UK’s relationship with China and come back with a clear strategy to replace their failed golden era policy? What steps has the Minister taken to deliver a co-ordinated international response to China’s assaults on democracy and human rights and, finally, where on earth are those Magnitsky sanctions?
Nigel Adams: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his questions. He will have heard the response that I gave to the Chair of the Select Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat), on Magnitsky sanctions. With regard to CGN’s involvement in our nuclear sector, obviously, investment involving critical infrastructure is subject to thorough scrutiny and needs to satisfy our robust legal, regulatory and national security requirements, and all projects of this nature are conducted under that regulation to ensure that our interests are protected.
As with all foreign policy priorities, the FCDO recognises the importance of cross-Whitehall collaboration, particularly on Hong Kong. The Foreign Secretary regularly chairs a ministerial group meeting attended by Ministers from across Whitehall and a number of Departments. We obviously take any threat to the joint declaration very seriously, but we need to wait and see what comes out of the National People’s Congress before making an assessment. We have already called a breach twice last year, but the hon. Gentleman will need to wait until we have seen what comes out of the NPC.
On BNOs and the integration of BNO passport holders, that is a really important question. We are working across Government and alongside civil society groups and others to support the integration of those thousands of people who will be taking up that route and arriving here. We encourage and look forward to welcoming applications from those who wish to make the United Kingdom their home. The Foreign Secretary has met the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to discuss exactly this issue. I know that the hon. Gentleman has been in contact with one of the Ministers at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and we look forward to seeing the outcome of those discussions, because it is absolutely crucial that we support those individuals who are coming here from Hong Kong.