[CNA] The British Foreign Office today released its six-monthly report on Hong Kong.
Foreign Minister Ke Weili pointed out that the UK's commitment to Hong Kong and Hong Kong people is unwavering, and it takes seriously the UK's responsibility as a signatory of the "Sino-British Joint Declaration".
James Cleverly said that the UK will continue to provide support to Hong Kong people, including through the British National Overseas (BNO) passport visa concession system, to help Hong Kong people live, work and study in the UK.
He stressed that China had "unquestionably" failed to abide by the joint declaration and continued to erode Hong Kong's promised autonomy.
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On the other hand, Ke Weili pointed out that maintaining its own uniqueness is in China's interest; Hong Kong can play an important role in connecting China with the world.
He affirmed that Hong Kong Chief Executive (Chief Executive) Lee Ka-chao is taking measures to "restart" Hong Kong to the international community, and to respond to the business community's concerns about epidemic prevention restrictions.
Since Hong Kong's sovereignty was handed over to China by the UK in July 1997, the British Foreign Office has issued a report to Parliament every six months, explaining the implementation of the "Sino-British Joint Declaration" on Hong Kong.
The report released today covers the period from January 1 to June 30, 2022.
Ke Weili made the above statement in the preface of the report.
He also mentioned that the "National Security Law" has a comprehensive impact on Hong Kong society, and the lives of ordinary Hong Kong people are also subject to increasingly tough restrictions.
Authorities continued to crack down on freedom of speech, the press, and assembly. Individuals and civic groups continued to self-censor, and most independent news platforms were forced to shut down.
Once charged with endangering national security, Hong Kong people face immediate imprisonment with little chance of being released on bail.
Ke Weili specifically mentioned Li Zhiying, the founder of Next Media Group, and 47 other pro-democracy politicians and social activists, pointing out that they are still in custody awaiting trial.
In addition, the authorities are expanding the scope of censorship beyond Hong Kong, including requiring the removal of the website of the British NGO Hong Kong Watch (Hong Kong Watch) on the grounds of safeguarding national security.
Ke Weili mentioned that in view of the fact that the Hong Kong authorities have deviated from the principles of politics and freedom of speech, after discussions with the British government, Supreme Court President Robert Reed and Vice President Patrick Hodge both resigned as non-permanent judges of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal in March last year duty.
The report is accompanied by major events, including the "Hong Kong Watch" website was blocked in Hong Kong on February 14 last year, and was subsequently accused of violating the National Security Law on March 10 and forced to take it off the shelves; human rights lawyer and former chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association Xia Paul Harris was interviewed by the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force on March 1, and immediately left Hong Kong to return to the UK on the 2nd; , the National Security Department arrested the Catholic Hong Kong Diocese Emeritus Cardinal Chen Rijun and others on the grounds of suspected collusion with foreign forces and violation of the National Security Law; on June 4, the Hong Kong police closed Victoria Park (Victoria Park) to prevent the commemoration of the June 4th Tiananmen Square massacre.
Jimmy Lai, a British citizen, has been detained for about two years.
He was accused by the Hong Kong government of "conspiring to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security" and "conspiring to publish seditious publications" and other crimes. He may be sentenced to life imprisonment.
The UK-based defense team recently requested an urgent meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
According to a press release from the non-governmental organization The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK), the team of lawyers made two unsuccessful attempts to see officials from the British Foreign Office.
Earlier this month, the team was allowed to meet with a Foreign Ministry official, but the meeting has been delayed.
In mid-December last year, CFHK and six non-governmental organizations including "Hong Kong Watch" issued a joint open letter to Sunak, and a copy was sent to Ke Weili and Minister of State for Indo-Pacific Regional Affairs, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Anne-Marie Trevelyan, requesting the UK to sanction Li Jiachao and all those responsible for the implementation of the National Security Law, including Beijing officials stationed in Hong Kong, and calling on Sunak to demand that China release Jimmy Lai immediately and unconditionally.
The open letter mentioned that the BNO visa is not an effective means to deal with China's violation of the joint statement.
On the 10th of this month, CFHK stated that Li Zhiying's legal team had sent a letter to see Sunak, hoping to discuss in person possible ways to ensure Li Zhiying's release.
The letter also mentioned that the US government publicly condemned the CCP’s judicial injustice against Jimmy Lai in October last year, but the British government continued to remain silent.
This matter received a lot of attention from the British media that day; Jimmy Lai's lawyer team and his son Li Chong'en were interviewed by Quvilian later that day.
On the 11th, Li Chongen met with Iain Duncan Smith, a member of the House of Commons, and David Alton, a member of the House of Lords, in the British Parliament.
In the subsequent "Prime Minister's Questions" time in the House of Commons, Sunak responded to Smith's question and emphasized that he would definitely actively ensure that the UK stood up to China's aggressive actions and its damage to the joint statement.
Although CFHK criticized the British government for not taking action to assist Jimmy Lai, a spokesman for the British Prime Minister's Office pointed out on the 10th that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs "has assisted Jimmy Lai for some time" and that "the British government will always support freedom, rights and the rule of law."
The Chinese embassy in the UK stated today that the British side ignored China's solemn position and insisted on publishing the so-called "half-year report on the Hong Kong issue".
The embassy declared that the "Sino-British Joint Declaration" did not entrust the British side to assume any responsibility for Hong Kong after Hong Kong's return; the British side should "let go of its colonial mentality" and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs.
(Editor: Yang Zhaoyan) 1120113