The pleas come as a million prodemocracy protesters took to the streets for the 11th week in a row to urge Hong Kong’s chief executive to listen to their demands. All police leave in the region was cancelled, while Chinese troop carriers remained amassed at the border. The Prime Minister, whose brother Max is a businessman in Hong Kong, has been coming under mounting pressure to send a clear signal to the international community condemning China’s breaches of a legally binding agreement which guaranteed that Hong Kong would retain “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.
As a stakeholder to the 1984 Joint Agreement, Britain can still play a key role in galvanising international condemnation.
And some experts warned that nations such as the US will not act without that call.s
Jeremy Lefroy MP, a member of the Commons human rights committee, said: “The PM is going to G7 next week and he needs to make Hong Kong a top priority. Getting a joint declaration from the G7 is his perfect opportunity to put down his marker in a measured way to state the facts as they are.
“He can bind in Germany and France, as well as the US, Italy, Canada and Japan. He can come out with pretty strong statements.”
He added: “We can no longer pussyfoot around how this will impact trade – we’ve gone beyond that now. With Brexit, we’ve already decided that trade relationships are secondary to matters of national sovereignty and we must be consistent.”
His view was backed by Evan Fowler, founder of the Hong Kong Free Press, who said: “I can confirm that unfortunately the impression of Britain in Hong Kong is very poor. They know that the only country in the world with enough clout to even have a proper dialogue with China is the US.”
He said one move would be for US President Donald Trump to revoke the Hong Kong Policy Act, which currently protects the island from his trade war with Beijing. He added: “When it comes to trade policy, most
Hongkongers – whatever they think of him as a person – acknowledge that he’s finally calling China out.
“But Britain holds the key. It is an equal signatory to the joint declaration. “My American contacts tell me repeatedly that the US’s hands are tied by what the UK does. Boris Johnson must realise that he is in a position to provide the framework that the international community can take.”
The latest turmoil was sparked by a bid by Beijing to change the island’s extradition laws, allowing the prosecution of Hong Kong suspects on the mainland where the justice system is controlled by the Communist Party.
But Hongkongers have actually had their rights eroded for almost 20 years, said Fowler.