Hong Kong handover 20 years on: Where do British Nationals Overseas stand?
By Ben Brickley
It is 20 years since the handover treaty was signed and Britain returned Hong Kong to China. As there was when the treaty was signed, significant trepidation surrounding the handover endures.
Chinese leader, Xi Jinping oversaw a military parade the day before the anniversary of the treaty and warned that there would be new challenges to the current one country, two systems framework which has allowed for a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong.
This leaves Britain with the duty to uphold its promise to protect the democracy and rights that were agreed upon when the treaty was signed.
Many Hong Kong residents, are rushing to secure British Nationals Overseas passports as contingency in case of social or political unrest and the continued erosion of civil liberties. These passports give visa-free visits to the UK for six months and an entitlement to British consular protection.
It is clear that the citizens of Hong Kong are concerned by the tight grip that the Chinese government currently have over the region and Britain needs to ensure that they do not turn a blind eye to needs of its former overseas territory.
It is Britain’s duty to ensure the Hong Kong handover agreement is upheld.
The British government has recently spoken out against China’s plan to go against the autonomy given by the treaty with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson saying that“Britain's commitment to Hong Kong, enshrined in the "treaty", was "just as strong today" as it was 20 years ago” and a British Foreign office spokesperson making it clear that “It is a legally binding treaty, registered with the UN and continues to be in force. As a co-signatory, the UK government is committed to monitoring its implementation closely.”
Many criticisms have already been made on Britain’s current approach to its former colony as Lord Patten, Hong Kong’s last governor, called the UK government “craven” and Avery Ng, the chairman of the League of Social Democrats, stating that
“The UK government has legal, moral and political responsibility to come out and say the right thing. It is not just the Chinese government humiliating the people of Hong Kong but it is that Xi Jinping is humiliating the UK government.” with Britain’s historic responsibility to Hong Kong it should listen to the residents and former diplomats of the region and act upon the previously mentioned responsibility.” with Britain’s historic responsibility to Hong Kong it should listen to the residents and former diplomats of the region and act upon the previously mentioned responsibility.
Concerns have already been raised by pro-democracy groups over what will happen after 2047, when the one country two system rule that protects rights and liberties in the city expires.
With Brexit on the horizon it could be quite difficult for the British government to take such strong opposition against China but, as the second party to the handover treaty it is time for Britain to take a stand and show the international community that the country's exit of the European Union is not the only example of Britain’s commitment to independent rule.
Last updated 4/7/2017 17:46