Britain mulls over pulling its judges from Hong Kong's top court

LONDON • Britain is considering pulling its judges out of Hong Kong's highest court, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said, in its latest response to what it considers China's breaches of its international obligations in the territory.

Britain, which ruled Hong Kong for more than 150 years until it handed the city back to China in 1997, said a new security law imposed on the territory by Beijing just before midnight on June 30 was a breach of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that paved the way for the handover.

London has also objected to new rules imposed by the mainland authorities to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong.

"This has been, and continues to be, the most concerning period in Hong Kong's post-handover history," Mr Raab wrote in his foreword to the latest in a regular series of six-monthly reports on Hong Kong on Monday.

The Hong Kong government hit back at what it called "sweeping attacks and groundless accusations" in the report, adding that they were "irresponsible remarks".

The Chinese Foreign Ministry's commission in Hong Kong also expressed "strong indignation" at the report, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

"Wake up and stop the old colonial dream of interfering in Hong Kong's affairs," it quoted a spokesman as saying.

In the foreword, Mr Raab said he had begun consulting on what to do about British judges who now sit on Hong Kong's top court.

"I have begun consultations with Lord Reed, president of the United Kingdom Supreme Court, concerning when to review whether it continues to be appropriate for British judges to sit as non-permanent judges on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal," said Mr Raab.

Britain has already announced new immigration rules making it easier for people from Hong Kong to live in the UK, suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extended its China arms embargo to include Hong Kong.

In a separate development, a Hong Kong man named Ma Chun Man, 30, was dragged from a court shouting democracy slogans and remanded into custody yesterday after becoming the third person to be charged under a sweeping new national security law.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2020, with the headline 'Britain mulls over pulling its judges from Hong Kong's top court'. Print Edition | Subscribe