UK says China's security law is serious violation of Joint Declaration on Hong Kong

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong, on July 1, 2020.
Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong, on July 1, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - The United Kingdom said on Wednesday (July 1) that China's imposition of a security law on Hong Kong was a "clear and serious" violation of the Joint Declaration.

"We have very carefully now assessed the contents of this national security legislation since it was published last night," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Reuters.

"It constitutes a clear violation of the autonomy of Hong Kong, and a direct threat to the freedoms of its people, and therefore I'm afraid to say it is a clear and serious violation of the Joint Declaration treaty between the United Kingdom and China."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday that China’s imposition of a security law on Hong Kong violated Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and threatened the freedoms and rights protected by the 1984 Joint Declaration. 

“The enactment and imposition of this national security law constitute 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’s basic law. The law also threatens the freedoms and rights protected by the joint declaration,” Johnson told parliament. 

“We made clear... that if China continued 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 now.”

Hong Kong's autonomy was guaranteed under the "one country, two systems" agreement enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration signed by then Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.