Britain needs to truly let go of Hong Kong

One grandee after another from the United Kingdom is coming to our city purporting their nation’s determination to safeguard our rights, yet when push comes to shove it will be our sovereign China that will bear the responsibility

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 December, 2017, 2:15am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 December, 2017, 12:02pm

It’s both amusing and infuriating to watch British grandees flying in and out of the city making pronouncements about our future and how China should behave. On a practical level, when will these very important people realise their country is now irrelevant on the international stage and their government has little influence anywhere in the world, including in Hong Kong?

This negative assessment of Britain’s international standing,is not my own judgment, but that of Jonathan Powell (see his Guardian op-ed), Tony Blair’s chief of staff from 1995 to 2007, and of Steven Erlanger, chief diplomatic correspondent of The New York Times, who just completed four years as the paper’s London bureau chief.

People like British peer Paddy Ashdown, who has been on a “fact-finding” tour here like we are some kind of war-worn Bosnia and Herzegovina, his old haunts, are entertained by members of the local opposition and their expatriate supporters grasping at straws. But even their most fervent fans know deep down they will make no difference whatsoever, whatever happens in Hong Kong now and forever.

UK’s duty to Hong Kong ‘non-negotiable’ in post-Brexit trade talks with China, Paddy Ashdown says

China must honour the Sino-British Joint Declaration, Ashdown solemnly declares. But why wouldn’t China when this international treaty, from the very beginning, focuses on preserving “the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong” and “upholding national unity and territorial integrity”?

It sounds like some opposition members and Hong Kong secessionists are the ones working to undermine this treaty.

“Our duty to Hong Kong is non-negotiable,” Ashdown said. “Britain does need to understand that it has a very special duty to Hong Kong and it needs to fulfil that duty. We have a legal duty. We have a moral duty. We have a duty of friendship.”

We’ll never forget you, Britain told Hong Kong with a straight face

I am sorry, but doesn’t anyone feel embarrassed hearing him speak like that? Not British peers, evidently.

And preserving Hong Kong’s freedoms, too. Presumably that means achieving full democracy and universal suffrage. But there is no mention of any of that in the Joint Declaration. It’s all in the Basic Law. I would join the opposition this minute if they start respecting the city’s mini-constitution in total, including Article 23, which calls for Hong Kong to enact national security legislation.

In a disaster or war, do you think Britain or China would rush all available resources to help Hong Kong? Oh wait, that would be mainland interference. Better call the Brits for help!