Sir Iain Duncan Smith: China - “Appeasement is now no longer an option”

2nd June 2020

Sir Iain Duncan Smith calls on the UK Government to take a lead to organise the free world to stand up against China's global military and economic ambitions, one manifestation of which is the proposed national security law for Hong Kong. 

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his statement, but does he not now think that the position of China is altogether too obvious, and that since President Xi arrived, its ambitions globally, both militarily and economically, are now fully on track and Hong Kong is but one manifestation of its global reach through the South China sea, through its abuse of human rights and through its ambitions over Taiwan? Is this not a case, as a previous Prime Minister once said, that this is

“only the first sip…of a bitter cup”,

and that it is going to be offered to us again and again? Appeasement, which has been the case for the free world, is now no longer an option, so will my right hon. Friend now explain how he intends to organise the free world so that we stand up against this? Also, will he now work with all our allies around the world to get them to give all Hong Kong passport holders right of abode, if necessary?

I thank my right hon. Friend for his excellent questions. I do think Hong Kong is part of a pattern, although it is not a uniform one. He referred to the violation of the UN convention on the law of the sea—I think that is what he was referring to in relation to the South China sea—and we could add cyber-attacks and the treatment of the Uighur Muslims. At every step, the right approach for the United Kingdom, as a matter of principle and also of effectiveness, is to call out behaviour that is contrary to international law on its own terms. In answer to the Chairman of the Select Committee and others, that is how we will build a coalition of like-minded countries to stand firm in the face of such behaviour.

My right hon. Friend asked about BNO passport holders. We have made a commitment, which he has heard today. It is important that we did that as a matter of principle, rather than waiting for others to agree in concept. However, we are already discussing with our partners—I raised it on the Five Eyes call yesterday—the possibility of burden sharing if we see a mass exodus from Hong Kong. I do not think that that is likely in the last analysis, but he is right to raise it, and we are on the case diplomatically.

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