Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that the Sino-British Joint Declaration is “absolutely valid” in response to a parliamentary question on freedoms in Hong Kong.
At a British Parliament session on Tuesday, Labour Party MP Geraint Davies said: “[I]n Hong Kong freedom of the press, freedom of expression and assembly is guaranteed by Article 3(5) of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Yet last week, Beijing said they would basically imprison people up to three years for booing or disrespecting the Chinese national anthem.”
“President Trump said nothing about this during his visit, what is he [Johnson] going to do about this to uphold fundamental values that we are legally obliged in the United Kingdom to uphold?”
In response, Johnson said: “We have made it absolutely clear to our Chinese partners that the Joint Declaration is absolutely valid and operative, and the One Country, Two Systems enshrining all the values that he [Davies] rightly draws attention to. One Country, Two Systems remain in force.”
The local lawmaking process for the national anthem law, which criminalises insulting March of the Volunteers, began after China’s top legislature earlier this month decided to insert the law into the Annex III of the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s de facto constitution.
Hong Kong Watch, a new London-based advocacy organisation focused on Hong Kong, said on Twitter: “Thank you Geraint Davis MP for raising important concerns about freedom of expression, and press freedom in Hong Kong.”
— Hong Kong Watch (@hk_watch) November 21, 2017
The group, due to launch on December 11, is founded by Conservative party human rights activist Benedict Rogers, who was barred from entering Hong Kong last month. It will monitor human rights, freedoms and rule of law in Hong Kong.
The group has the support of patrons from across the political spectrum, including former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC, former Labour Shadow Foreign Minister Catherine West MP, former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Paddy Ashdown, independent cross-bencher Lord David Alton, and former prosecutor of Slobodan Milosevic, barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice QC.