Press Release: Hong Kong Watch launching on 11 December 2017 with messages of support from Lord Patten, Lord Ashdown and other leading British politicians
A new advocacy organisation focused on Hong Kong will be launched at a reception hosted in Speaker’s House, House of Commons in the UK Parliament on Monday, 11 December 2017.
The new organization, Hong Kong Watch, will be a London-based human rights organisation which will monitor human rights, freedoms and rule of law in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Watch has the support of eminent patrons from across the party-political spectrum in the United Kingdom including Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC, Catherine West MP, Lord Paddy Ashdown, Lord David Alton, and Sir Geoffrey Nice QC.
Benedict Rogers, Chairman of Trustees at Hong Kong Watch, is the opening speaker at the event. His remarks will be followed by short reflections from the five patrons of Hong Kong Watch.
Although not a patron of Hong Kong Watch and unable to attend the event, Lord Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong today delivered a message in support of Hong Kong Watch, saying:
"I am sorry that I can't be with you for the launch reception of Hong Kong Watch. I am particularly glad you are taking this kind of initiative. I am delighted to hear that so many friends of Hong Kong wish to support the efforts made there. They draw sympathy from all around the world. I hope they will make certain that Hong Kong remains a free and open city. Hong Kong was of course guaranteed local autonomy and the continuation of its way of life in the Joint Declaration under the International Treaty between Britain and China which lasts until 2047. It is important that China holds to its obligations under the Joint Declaration. Not only is this important for Hong Kong itself, but it will also be taken as a sign by many countries around the world about how much they can trust China to keep its word as the next few years unfold. It is not external interference if friends or supporters of Hong Kong take a fair, informed and balanced view of the community's development. It is simply a mark of continuing friendship for a great city."
Lord Ashdown, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats and a patron of Hong Kong Watch, who recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Hong Kong echoed his sentiments, saying,
“As China’s power in the world grows, its responsibilities increase, and China has a responsibility to live up to its promises and obligations to Hong Kong. In recent years there are worrying signs that ‘one country, two systems’ and Hong Kong’s basic freedoms are being eroded. Britain has a responsibility to Hong Kong too, to monitor and speak out for Hong Kong’s way of life. The Sino-British Joint Declaration is precisely that – a joint declaration signed by both countries and lodged at the United Nations. Hong Kong Watch is being established to monitor, research and advocate in defence of Hong Kong’s freedoms, autonomy and rule of law and to urge both China and Britain to fulfil its obligations under the Joint Declaration, and that is why I am delighted to be a Patron of Hong Kong Watch.”
Benedict Rogers, who is responsible for initiating the work of Hong Kong Watch, and was recently controversially denied entry into Hong Kong, said in the build up to the event:
“More than ever there are concerns that the universal freedoms and democratic reforms, which the people of Hong Kong are entitled to under Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, are under threat along with Hong Kong’s autonomy under the principle of ‘one country, two systems’.
We believe that it is important that an international NGO is established to monitor and report on the worsening situation in Hong Kong. Based in London, our aim is to be international, a voice in the United Kingdom and other capitals in the EU and beyond.”
Hong Kong Watch will research the status of Hong Kong's freedoms and raise concerns with the United Kingdom government and the wider international community should violations of the rights and freedoms enshrined in Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration take place. The organisation will provide independent, comprehensive analysis and thought leadership on freedom and human rights in Hong Kong. Using this research, Hong Kong Watch will regularly update parliamentarians, government officials and the media in the UK and around the world.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC, who served as Foreign Secretary between 1995 and 1997 in the run up to the handover of Hong Kong, said,
"The people and government of the United Kingdom feel an obligation to the people of Hong Kong to help ensure that they enjoy their freedom and the rule of law for the next 25 years and beyond. Hong Kong Watch is a splendid initiative towards that end.”
Catherine West MP: Labour Member of Parliament for Hornsey and Wood Green, and Deputy Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on China said that:
“Our Islands share a deep history that is continuing to grow through trade, education, politics and culture and our commitment to Hong Kongers’ rights must remain as steadfast as ever, which is why I am honoured to become a Patron of Hong Kong Watch.”
Lord Alton, an independent crossbench peer and leading voice for human rights, said,
“Twenty years after the handover of Hong Kong to China, it is clear that Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy are threatened. Britain has specific moral and legal responsibilities to Hong Kong. The launch of Hong Kong Watch, an organization that will conduct independent, critical, constructive and responsible research and advocacy to uphold, defend and strengthen Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy, as promised to Hong Kong under the Basic Law, the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the concept of ‘one country, two systems’, is very welcome, timely and much needed. I am delighted to be a Patron of Hong Kong Watch, having first visited Hong Kong as a young Member of Parliament representing the city of Liverpool with its vibrant connections to Hong Kong, and having met in recent months some of the brave young campaigners for democracy in Hong Kong, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law. I look forward to supporting Hong Kong Watch as a Patron, in order to defend and strengthen the basic freedoms which Hong Kong people have been promised and deserve.”
Note to Editors
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