On China, the UK Tory government:
– Says we shouldn’t do trade deals with human rights abusers, then whips its MPs against the genocide amendment to the Trade Bill
– Dilutes the National Security & Investment Bill, leaving UK vulnerable
– Supports UK judges serving in Hong Kong
Weak. Divided. Inconsistent.
Stephen Kinnock: The Labour party stands in solidarity with the nine British citizens, including Members of both Houses, who have been sanctioned by the Chinese Government solely for calling out Beijing’s appalling human rights abuses against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang. We welcome the Prime Minister’s invitation to those who were sanctioned to meet him, and we hope that the Government are providing those individuals with adequate advice and support. However, we are deeply concerned about the rank hypocrisy and inconsistency in the Government’s actions regarding China.
When Beijing introduced the Hong Kong national security law last summer, the UK withdrew from two UK-China Government investment forums: the joint trade and economic commission and the economic and financial dialogue. However, it is reported that those forums are now reopening. Will the Minister confirm that?
On Hong Kong, does the Minister now agree with the Opposition that British judges who serve in Hong Kong are only lending a veneer of credibility to a broken system and that they should therefore withdraw? Toggle showing location ofColumn 159Lord Reed’s review was announced in November. When will its conclusions be published? Where are the Magnitsky sanctions against Carrie Lam and the human rights violators in Hong Kong?
In January, the Foreign Secretary said that “we shouldn’t be” doing trade deals with countries committing human rights abuses
“well below the level of genocide”,
yet the Government whipped their MPs against the genocide amendment to the Trade Bill. Will the Minister explain that rank hypocrisy and why the Foreign Secretary says one thing in public and something else altogether in private? The Government claim to be alive to the threat that Chinese state-backed investment poses to Britain’s economic security and prosperity, so why on earth is the Business Secretary weakening our defences by watering down the National Security and Investment Bill? Today, Taiwan suffered the biggest Chinese military incursion into its airspace to date of 25 planes. What conversations is the Minister having with his counterparts about that worrying development?
It is clear that the Government have no strategy on China at home and no strategy on China abroad. Will they now commit to an audit of every aspect of the UK-China relationship so that we can finally call time on the Conservatives’ failed golden era strategy and replace weakness, division and inconsistency with an approach that is instead based on strength, unity and consistency?
Nigel Adams: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his questions. The reality is that the UK has always wanted a mature, positive relationship with China. That has to be based on mutual respect and trust. There is still considerable scope for constructive engagement and co-operation, but we will not sacrifice our values or our security. It is worth getting it on the record that China is an authoritarian state with different values from the UK. We continually act on matters on which we do not agree, including human rights and Hong Kong.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned Hong Kong. The prosperity and way of life for Hongkongers relies on respect for fundamental freedoms, which includes an independent judiciary and the rule of law. We are fully committed to upholding Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms under the joint declaration. On the national security law, the imposition of the new rules including disqualifying elected legislators and changes to election processes, clearly constitutes a serious breach of the joint declaration. We consider Beijing to be in a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Sino-British joint declaration.
On Taiwan, yes, we are clearly concerned by any action that raises tensions in the Taiwan strait and risks destabilising the status quo. We have a long-standing policy that the Taiwan issue needs to be settled peacefully by the people on both sides of the Taiwan strait through constructive dialogue. We continue to work with Taiwan constructively on economic trade, education and cultural ties, and I think our relationship brings huge benefits to both the United Kingdom and Taiwan.