Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has warned the Government that it must act on sanctions against those undermining freedom in Hong Kong, after yet another wave of arrests and moves by Beijing to stamp out democracy in the city. Many more democracy activists have been arrested in recent days and China has announced new electoral rules which will reduce the chance for pro-democracy leaders to win representation.
Mr Carmichael is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong.
Speaking remotely in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Can I first of all reinforce the words of my honourable friend from Oxford West and Abingdon [Layla Moran MP] in extending the warmest possible welcome to Hongkongers coming to the United Kingdom under the BNO passport scheme, and as part of that we should all be calling out any increase in racially motivated abuse or violence against our own Chinese community. The Minister is quite right when he says that we shouldn’t speculate about the list of who might be subject to Magnitsky sanctions, but can I say to him in the nicest possible way that that speculation will continue for as long as he and his colleagues in government refuse to act. If he wants to end the speculation, then the tools for that are within his own hands. Why won’t he use them?
Responding for the Government, Nigel Adams MP said:
“I thank him for the work he does in terms of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong. He knows what I have to say about sanctions and the idea that to speculate would be unhelpful, but I will just say to him as I have said to other Members this afternoon: we are constantly reviewing our sanctions regime. I know it’s not the answer that he wants immediately but that is the situation - we will keep any designation under extremely close review.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“Excuses from the Minister on the lack of action on sanctions are wearing thin. As with so many issues in this Government their solution appears to be to wait until there is no action left to take and no benefit left to be had for those suffering the consequences. If we believe in liberal values and human rights then we need to put Magnitsky sanctions in place now.”