British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says he has offered to go to Beijing to find a way to cooperate over Hong Kong, but his proposition has so far not been accepted by China. Speaking on a video call on Friday organised by the powerful Conservative Friends of the Chinese lobby group to celebrate the Lunar New Year, Raab said he still believed dialogue was the best way out of the impasse. “I’ve offered to go to Beijing” he said. “I’ve offered to speak to my colleague Wang Yi, foreign minister.” Relations between London and Beijing have rapidly deteriorated over the past year due to the introduction of the National Security Law in Hong Kong and London’s subsequent offer of a citizenship pathway to thousands of Hong Kong BN(O) passport holders. However, Britain continues to want to trade with China, one of its largest direct investors with much of the business taking place in Hong Kong. “For me it’s not more difficult to talk when we have a challenge. That’s the time the foreign secretary must engage in dialogue. We will always have the door of diplomacy open and will always look for the positives,” Raab said. The minister was responding to a question from Conservative Friends of the Chinese chairman Geoffrey Robert Clifton-Brown on what the British government plans to do to restore commercial confidence between the former colonial power and Hong Kong. He reiterated previous statements that while China regards the National Security Law in Hong Kong as “a domestic issue”, Britain sees it as a clear breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. However, he said, it was a matter of “trust” and that “there is always a course on which we can chart back”. Boris Johnson says world needs pandemic treaty, citing China’s Wuhan Raab also commented on “very worrying” reports of human rights abuses against members of the Uygur minority in China‘s Xinjiang province. Researchers and rights groups say that since 2016, China has rounded up a million or more Uygurs and members of other minorities into prisons and indoctrination camps that Beijing has described as training centres. “I don’t want to pick a fight with the Chinese government,” he said. “I know the Chinese government dispute those claims and its only fair, particularly with our friend from the Chinese embassy here, not to over politicise, but the one thing I would say is, there is a way, if there is a dispute, to resolve it.” The foreign secretary was referring to Yang Xiaoguang, the deputy head of the Chinese embassy in London, who addressed the online meeting before Raab and did not discuss the situations in Hong Kong or Xinjiang. Raab said the solution was for China to allow the High Commissioner of Human Rights from the UN “to go on an impartial independent fact-finding mission” and settle the matter. The foreign secretary will call on Monday for the UN to be given “urgent and unfettered” access to Xinjiang for such an investigation, his office said, according to a Reuters report. During Sunday’s video call, Raab also said the British government had a way to “navigate” any fresh attempts by the House of Lords to reinsert a clause into a new bill that would force ministers to withdraw from any trade agreement with nations the country‘s High Court deemed to have committed genocide. The Lords will debate and vote on a new amendment to the legislation on Tuesday that campaigners say will meet the government‘s concerns but still give the administration a mechanism to determine if genocide has taken place in a trading partner. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government narrowly fended off a backbench rebellion by Conservative MPs to insert the so-called “genocide clause”, in what has been described by critics as “parliamentary chicanery”. Calls for Hong Kong Bar Association to remove chairman over UK party ties “Part of that is about the separation of powers and wanting parliament to scrutinise the government and hand these things over to the courts,” said Raab. “I think we will navigate that legislation carefully and in the right way so I’m not worried so much about that.” Raab ruled out any immediate possibility of a free trade deal with China – one of the British government’s key post-Brexit trade ambitions before anti-government protests erupted in Hong Kong in 2019. “I’m not sure parliament would accept at this point in time an FTA with China but hopefully we can keep talking, improve trade where it is appropriate, and it’s something that may be there in the long term,” he said. China is among the Britain‘s top five trade partners, and inward investment would stand to suffer most if the “genocide clause” amendment to the trade bill were to pass. Between January and August 2019, Chinese businesses invested roughly £6 billion (US$8.4 billion) in the UK compared to £4.4 billion the year before. The Conservative Friends of the Chinese is a lobby group widely seen as having helped establish the “golden era” of relations between Britain and China under the administration of David Cameron in 2015. However, members of the group hold a cross-section of political views, with some supporting the protesters in Hong Kong and while others are more closely linked to Beijing. The latter include Xuelin Bates, a China-born businesswoman married to a British peer who has been accused in the UK media of working for the Chinese Communist Party.