Will the UK Government act when its own employees are ‘tortured’?
Commenting on the case of Simon Cheng, the former employee of the UK Consulate in Hong Kong, who says he was tortured by the Chinese authorities, Lord Alton, Vice Chair of the Westminster Friends of Hong Kong, said:
“The details of what Mr Cheng says happened to him are heartbreaking and extraordinary: a kidnapping and a forced confession obtained by brutal torture. This demands a far stronger response from the British Government than a quiet word with the Chinese Ambassador. Surely it is now time for the Foreign Secretary to declare that the Sino-British Joint Declaration is being violated by Beijing, and that China is in breach of international law. The UK Government must match the resolve that US lawmakers showed last night and begin immediately preparing targeted sanctions, while offering asylum to those seeking to escape the iron grip of dictatorship like Simon Cheng. That is the least we can do, frankly.”
The fate of Simon Cheng graphically illustrates why people in Hong Kong are so fearful of Chinese Communism.
A spokesperson for Stand with Hong Kong, a pro-democracy group, said:
“We’re struggling to understand if the UK Government has a red line in regards to Hong Kong. Despite overt and deteriorating transgressions by China against “one country, two systems”, the Government seems bogged down in technicalities and unable to respond to another breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Is this the best the UK Government can do when its own consular staff are tortured? Simon has a British National (Overseas) passport, which further highlights the lack of protection such a class of nationality offers. We need concrete action like British citizenship rights to support those suffering under the yolk of Beijing’s torture apparatus.”
According to media reports, “following [the BBC] interview, the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has summoned the Chinese ambassador.” Mr Cheng “was asked to resign from his post, although UK sources say he was provided with support, including a two-year working visa for the UK” — but not offered citizenship or even a path to it in the UK. (1)
Last night, the US Senate unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act which lays out a process for the US President to impose sanctions and travel restrictions on those who are found to be knowingly responsible for threatened or carried out arbitrary detention, torture, forced confession of any individual in Hong Kong, or other violations of internationally recognized human rights.(2)
Hong Kong: articles from the Washington Post
The Post’s View: Hong Kong is on the brink of breakdown
The Post’s View: China is wrecking Hong Kong’s ideals. And it only has itself to blame.
Parjanya Christian Holtz: ‘It is a war here now’
Josh Rogin: Trump and McConnell are failing the people of Hong Kong
Joshua Wong: China can silence me. But it can’t silence Hong Kong’s movement.
Fred Hiatt: While Trump stands by, the world’s tyrants are trying to make the world safe for dictatorship