Hong Kong: Dominic Raab urges China to ‘step back from the brink’

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab | Niklas Halle’n/AFP via Getty Images

London ‘at the vanguard’ of the international response, says foreign secretary.

LONDON — The U.K. wants to rally as many countries as possible to condemn China’s threat to Hong Kong’s autonomy, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Tuesday, as he urged Beijing to “step back from the brink” and reverse plans to impose national security legislation.

The U.K. had “historic responsibility” and a “duty” toward Hong Kong’s people, Raab said, repeating London’s pledge to extend visa rights to British National Overseas passport holders if China goes ahead with the new legislation.

He insisted London had been “at the vanguard” of the international response and that China should expect further action if it moved ahead with the law.

“There is time for China to reconsider,” he said. “There is a moment for China to step back from the brink and respect Hong Kong’s autonomy and respect China’s own international obligations.”

However, if China’s new law — which Raab said he expected to be published in full “shortly” — moves forward, Raab said the U.K. would “consider what further response we make working with those international partners and others.”

Raab said he had spoken to his counterparts in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance — the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand — on Monday, with the group reaffirming “solidarity” on Hong Kong. Raab has also spoken to Japan’s foreign minister and to counterparts in the EU.

The EU’s statement last week, which expressed “grave concern” at China’s actions, was “not as strong as the statement we put out,” Raab said, but nonetheless demonstrated that Brussels was “engaged actively” on the issue.

He said London was seeking a broad international alliance of countries to speak out against China’s actions and was working with African and South American states too, not just “the usual suspects that China will dismiss as trying to weaken it or trying to keep it down.”

He accused China of using “a range of approaches … from inducements to intimidation in order to cajole, sway and frankly coerce countries to bend to its will” but said that a broad international condemnation of China’s actions would be the most effective way of “facing down what is clearly egregious behavior in relation to Hong Kong.”

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