The Liberal Democrats have agreed plans at their Autumn Conference that, if accepted by Ministers, would see all Hong Kongers offered a path to citizenship and a new international ‘lifeboat’ system if the situation in the region deteriorates further.
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, the Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong and a Patron of Hong Kong watch, warned “the UK has a moral and legal duty to stand with Hong Kongers and ensure no one is left behind to suffer under the Chinese Communist Party.”
The debate at the Party’s first digital conference included contributions from anonymous members of the Liberal Democrats living in Hong Kong and saw speakers where a mask in solidarity with Joshua Wong, the pro-democracy protest leader in Hong Kong who was recently been under the National Security Law for a breach in 2019 of the anti-mask law in Hong Kong.
Mr Carmichael, who moved the motion, secured cross-party support before the summer recess for a Bill to require the Government to provide the “right of abode” to all Hong Kongers.
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: “If ever there was a time for us to act in support of Hong Kongers, it is now. With repeated reports of police brutality, the UK has a moral and legal duty to stand with Hong Kongers and ensure no one is left behind to suffer under the Chinese Communist Party.
“During the Handover, Paddy Ashdown and others rightly argued that the UK should offer the right of abode with a path to citizenship if China ever reneged on the promises of the Sino-British declaration. It is clear this has now happened.
“Boris Johnson’s slogan of ‘Global Britain’ is meaningless if his Government is timid in international human rights, including falling short of using Magnitsky style sanctions.
“It is time the Prime Minister lives up to his commitments and moves quickly to put in place a lifeboat system to secure safe passage to the UK for Hong Kongers.”
Johnny Patterson, Director Hong Kong Watch, added: “The UK’s new BNO policy is a significant step forward and helps go some way to righting a historic wrong.
“But gaps do remain in the policy, particularly for younger people. Therefore, it is vital that the UK Government take steps both to make further provisions for those missed in the original policy, and to push other governments to establish an international lifeboat.”