Government must set up lifeboat system to ensure safe passage for Hong Kongers and meet its commitments to them and democracy

July 21, 2020 8:19 PM

Hong Kong flagAs the Foreign Secretary has confirmed that the UK will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong, Newcastle Liberal Democrats' Councillor Aidan King, who tried to get a motion on the subject debated at the City Council, commented :

"Suspending extradition is the only logical step to protect all Hong Kongers, including those who have already sought refuge in the UK.

"The Government must live up to its commitments and move quickly to put in place a lifeboat system to secure safe passage to the UK for Hong Kongers. A system that opens in 2021 just gives an incentive to the Chinese Government to crack down on pro-democracy campaigners sooner rather than later.

"The UK Government should be accelerating the design of that system and opening local offices to make the scheme as accessible to as many people as it possibly can be.

"The Foreign Secretary must also now take seriously further sanctions against the Chinese regime given the horrific violations of human rights amounting to genocide in Xinjiang. We cannot standby. The UK must work hand-in-hand with international partners to stop these abuses and protect those whose lives are at grave risk."

At the time that the Labour Party blocked the debate at Full Council, Cllr KIng sought to propose:

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 3 million 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 the 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.