The UK has accused China of violating its legal agreement with London after Beijing expelled four Hong Kong opposition MP’s from the territory’s Legislative Council.
Accusing China of not standing up to its promise, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that Beijing had broken promises it was supposed to keep under the joint declaration, and was undermining the autonomy Hong Kong was supposed to enjoy.
After Beijing expelled the four MPs, several other legislators resigned from the government.
Raab said: “China has once again broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. The UK will stand up for the people of Hong Kong and call out violations of their rights and freedoms
“With our international partners, we will hold China to the obligations it freely assumed under international law.”
The expulsion of the MPs came after China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed a resolution making it legal to expel lawmakers who support Hong Kong’s independence or undermine Beijing’s sovereignty over the territory.
Nigel Adams, the UK Foreign Office Minister, told MPs that the government would consider sanctions against Chinese officials.
Addressing the House of Commons, he said: “We will continue to consider designations under our Magnitsky-style sanctions regime. It’s not entirely appropriate to speculate who may be designated under the sanctions regime in the future, as that could reduce the impact.”
China has been fiercely suppressing opposition voices after pro-democracy protests rocked Hong Kong last year.
In July, China imposed a new national security law in Hong Kong, which the UK government believes gives Chinese authorities sweeping powers to crack down on dissent, and a new level of control over the semi-autonomous territory.
“Hong Kong’s people are left now with a neutered legislature. China has yet again broken its promise to the people of Hong Kong.
“Its actions tarnish China’s international reputation and undermined Hong Kong’s long-term stability,” Adams added.
By expelling the MPs, the UK said that Beijing is breaching the Sino-British joint declaration which aimed to smooth the transition when the territory was handed back to China in 1997.