Former Foreign Secretaries urge action on Hong Kong

Seven former Conservative and Labour UK foreign secretaries have declared that Britain must take the lead in co-ordinating the international response to China’s efforts to impose new security laws in Hong Kong.

The cross-party initiative reflects concern that the response to China cannot be left to US President Donald Trump and that, as a former colonial power, Britain has a special responsibility to take a lead. The seven, including former Conservative foreign secretaries William Hague and Jeremy Hunt, say that the UK should set up an international contact group similar to the one established during the Balkans crisis in the 1990s.

Trump has proposed a one-off summit this September in China which will involving leaders of the G7 nations, as well as Australia, Korea, India and Russia. Someof the Foreign Secretaries fear that a Trump-led response to China in Hong Kong, heavily influenced by the President's re-election plans, may only divide democracies opposed to what China is doing.

In a letter to the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the seven said: “When it comes to Hong Kong’s autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ model, many of our international partners continue to take their cue from the British government. I’m sure you would agree, as a co-signatory of the Sino-British joint declaration the UK must be seen to be leading and coordinating the international response to this crisis and ensuring the integrity of the treaty lodged at the United Nations in 1985 and one country, two systems.”

The signatories also include Labour’s David Miliband, Margaret Beckett, Jack Straw and the former Labour peer David Owen.

Raab has so far coordinated his global response to China’s actions with Canada, Australia and the US, and a joint US-UK effort to raise the issue at a virtual meeting of the UN security council was blocked by China on the grounds that it represented interference with its internal affairs.


View the latest
digital issue