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Council missed opportunity to express solidarity with people of Hong Kong by ban on discussion at its last meeting

July 1, 2020 1:59 PM

Hong Kong flagCouncillor Aidan King, who would have proposed the motion below on behalf of the Liberal Democrats , before it was blocked by the Labour Administration, later said :

Hong Kong has become an international political football. The competition between America and China has leaked into many people's lives no more so than the peoples' of Hong Kong.

I have liaised with previous refugee communities such as the Bosnian community and Newcastle's Hong Kong immigrant community. The Hong Kong community are very upset by the violence and disruption that is currently flowing through Hong Kong and want to see it stop.

Beijing is pressing forward in what I believe is their 23-year goal of Hong Kong being integrated into China as a Chinese city. China now calls the one country two systems agreement a 'historical' document and is pressing for closer harmonisation of Hong Kong two decades earlier than 2047 as was anticipated by the agreement formulated by Deng Xiaoping. The start of this accelerated process is the new security law, just passed unanimously before its text was even published.

Sentiment in Hong Kong is split. Some welcome integration with China. Some would prefer the special administrative region (SAR) to continue. Some would like to see greater autonomy in Hong Kong from China. Violent clashes have broken out in Hong Kong over the how Hong Kong should be treated in the future and the proposed new security laws. I personally would like to see the continuation of the SAR as has been laid out by Deng Xiaoping's agreement, but this hangs in the balance as there is a three way agreement that secures this status economically.

Hong Kong currently has special status, which this new law could see under pressure. US tariffs do not apply to Hong Kong the Hong Kong Dollar is freely convertible to the American dollar. These and other elements are in the hands of Donald J Trump to remove if he pleases. This would spark chaos in Hong Kong.

Relations between China and America are deteriorating, some have said it is a new cold war. I do not believe this to be the case. However, the use of the Hong Kong people as pawns in this competition causes them great anguish. I would wish for all sides to come together to agree the way forward especially involving the people of Hong Kong themselves in determining their own future.

The British national oversea's passports do not apply to passport holder's whole families. I would like to see Britain's offer to the people of Hong Kong extended to the families of BNO passport holders. There is also the issue that BNO status only applies to those born before the handover of Hong Kong, those now of the age of 23 and over. I would also like to see Boris Johnson's offer extended to the under 23's in some format. How effective today's announcement is will become evident.

If the worst comes to the worst Newcastle upon Tyne stands ready to assist. I call for all parties to find a negotiated settlement that will end the violence.

The full text of the motion was :

Council believes that as a city we are committed to doing what we can to welcome those seeking sanctuary and to help rebuild lives. We are honoured to be a recognised City of Sanctuary; part of a network of towns and cities throughout the country that are proud to be places of safety, and which include people seeking sanctuary fully in the lives of their communities.

Council notes that Boris Johnson our Prime Minister has out lined the path to UK citizenship for 3m Hong Kong residents.

Council resolves to stand ready and willing to house refugees from Hong Kong in the event of draconian new laws being imposed upon Hong Kong by the Chinese Communist Party. We will work with other communities around Newcastle notably that established Mainland and Hong Kong Chinese communities to ensure the successful settlement of these potential refugees. We will use experiences of previous refugee settlements in our city such as those from the Bosnian war and most recently Syrian refugees to enhance the prospects of their prosperous integration into our city.