Boris Johnson has pledged to extend the right of Hong Kong citizens to live and work in the UK after accusing China of a “clear and serious breach” of a treaty with Britain.
Mr Johnson’s pledge was followed by condemnation from the Foreign Secretary – which was echoed by all parties in the House of Commons over Beijing implementing
Mr Johnson accused Beijing of violating the former British colony’s degree of autonomy by imposing a much-criticised national security law on the territory.
He confirmed to MPs that he would introduce a new route for those with British national (overseas) status to live and work in the UK and apply for citizenship, which could potentially extend the right for nearly three million people.
Taking effect on Tuesday night, the security law makes activities deemed subversive or secessionist punishable by imprisonment, and is seen as targeting anti-government demonstrators.
Thousands of protesters are left fearing for their lives and freedom, which also puts journalists working in Hong Kong at risk.
Mr Johnson told the Commons: “The enactment and imposition of this national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
“It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and is in direct conflict with Hong Kong Basic Law.
“We made clear that if China continues down this path we would introduce a new route for those with British national (overseas) status to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship – and that is precisely what we will do.”
Mr Raab seemed to step up criticism of the Chinese state, which has been severely tested in recent months.
Mr Raab said that the UK will not “look the other way” on Hong Kong.
He said: “We want a positive relationship with China but we will not look the other way when it comes to Hong Kong and we will not duck our historic responsibilities to its people.
“We will continue to bring together our international partners to stand up for the people of Hong Kong, to call out the violations of their freedoms, to hold China to its international obligations freely assumed under international law.”
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said the actions taken by the Chinese government will have a “chilling effect on democracy”.
She said: “The new security law is deeply shocking and the arrests overnight have stunned the world.
“This will have a chilling effect on democracy, it fundamentally undermines the commitments made by the Chinese government to the United Kingdom and in turn the commitments that we made to the people of Hong Kong when we signed the Joint Declaration.”