Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

MEP speaks up for human rights in Hong Kong

Press Release - December 12th 2002

Hong Kong, formerly a British Colony but now a Special Adminstrative Region of China, is proposing to introduce new laws which many people believe could curtail human rights in the colony * and threaten its standing as a thriving commercial centre. The consultation period ends on 24th December and it is feared that implementation of Article 23 of the HK Basic Law could compromise freedom of speech and religion, and even threaten banking secrecy.

When Hong Kong reverted to China in 1997, the PRC guaranteed "One Country, Two Systems", for at least fifty years. Now, after only five years, these new proposals could enable China's authoritarian Communist régime to impose its draconian system in Hong Kong.

Dr Charles Tannock MEP, as Conserrvative Foreign Affairs Spokesman and representing London, has had representations from ethnic Chinese constituents, calling for Hong Kong's traditional freedoms to be retained. Speaking at a seminar on Hong Kong in the European Parliament on Wednesday, Tannock recognised Britain's special responsibility as the former colonial power, and called on the PRC to respect its "One Country, Two systems" commitment.

The seminar heard from representatives of Falun Gong, a Chinese religious group, who had been severely tortured in the PRC by the Chinese authorities, and feared similar persecution in Hong Kong. The delegation was led by distinguished former diplomat the Earl of Furlow, a Falun gong practitioner.

The Hong Kong Government Office in Brussels gave Tannock assurances about the maintenance of common law and human rights in the former Colony.

Speaking in Brussels today, Tannock said "I am very pleased to receive these assurances from the Hong Kong government office, but I believe that British MEPs have a special duty to insist that human rights of free speech and freedom of religion are maintained in the former British Colony, and that the PRC has no opportunity to extend its persecution of religious minorities to Hong Kong. I will be supporting a resolution in Strasbourg next week calling for human rights to be respected in Hong Kong".