British lawmaker to Beijing: Allow Hong Kong to rejoin Commonwealth

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 6:21am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 8:59am

Beijing should allow Hong Kong to rejoin the Commonwealth, a British lawmaker campaigning for former colonial servicemen from the city to be given UK citizenship says.

Andrew Rosindell, a Conservative member of Parliament who chairs the all-party group on UK overseas territories, tabled a House of Commons motion in May calling for full British passports to be granted to all former members of the Hong Kong Military Service Corps and the Hong Kong Royal Naval Service.

Rosindell said he became involved in the work after being approached by the Campaign for Abandoned British-Chinese Soldiers Left in Hong Kong.

He agrees with the campaigners that it was unfair for the British government to give right of abode to just 500 former servicemen at the 1997 handover.

Citing his belief in the maintenance of close ties between Britain and its past and present overseas territories, he suggested Beijing allow Hong Kong to rejoin the Commonwealth - the 53-strong international grouping of countries with historic links to Britain.

The city left the organisation at the time of the handover.

Rosindell said Hong Kong retained close links with Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Singapore and had strong reasons to stay in the circle.

"Hong Kong is a shining example of success in so many ways," Rosindell said.

"That was built on foundations laid by the British … I hope the powers in Beijing will see it as a positive thing, that allowing Hong Kong to have some form of association with the Commonwealth will be a great benefit to Hong Kong."

The Commonwealth's member states have to sign up to a charter which commits them to 16 core values including democracy and human rights.

Member states also retain political and cultural ties and compete in the Commonwealth Games every four years.