November 23, 2020
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is considering pulling its judges out of Hong Kong’s highest court, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday, in its latest response to what it considers China’s breaches of its international obligations in the territory.
Britain, which ruled Hong Kong for over 150 years until it handed it back to China in 1997, says a new security law imposed on the territory by Beijing in July was a breach of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that paved the way for the handover.
London has also objected to new rules imposed by mainland China to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong, and to what it describes as retribution by the territory’s executive against political opposition and silencing of dissent.
“This has been, and continues to be, the most concerning period in Hong Kong’s post-handover history,” Raab wrote in his foreword to the latest in a regular series of six-monthly reports on Hong Kong.
China has rejected all of Britain’s criticisms and accused it of seeking to meddle in internal Chinese affairs.
In the foreword, Raab said he had begun consulting on what to do about British judges who currently sit on Hong Kong’s top court.
“I have begun consultations with Lord Reed, President of the UK Supreme Court, concerning when to review whether it continues to be appropriate for British judges to sit as non-permanent judges on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal,” Raab said.
Britain had already announced new immigration rules making it easier for people from Hong Kong to live in the United Kingdom, suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extended its China arms embargo to include Hong Kong.
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon, Editing by Timothy Heritage)