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We’re doing our duty by Hong Kong

Summary:
For decades the Adam Smith Institute has stood with the people of Hong Kong. The freedom loving dwellers of the pearl of the orient have been a testament to that adage of Adam Smith: “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.”From a sleepy fishing village on the edge of China to a global megalopolis. All built by free trade. When Britain agreed to the handover of sovereignty to China in 1997, this country did so on the promise of increasing freedoms for the people of Hong Kong. Instead what we have seen over the past two decades is an increasing level of mission creep by Beijing, as they interfere in

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For decades the Adam Smith Institute has stood with the people of Hong Kong. The freedom loving dwellers of the pearl of the orient have been a testament to that adage of Adam Smith: 

“Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.”

From a sleepy fishing village on the edge of China to a global megalopolis. All built by free trade. 

When Britain agreed to the handover of sovereignty to China in 1997, this country did so on the promise of increasing freedoms for the people of Hong Kong. Instead what we have seen over the past two decades is an increasing level of mission creep by Beijing, as they interfere in the internal affairs of the territory. 

The National Security Law, introduced last night without the people of Hong Kong even so much as seeing it, marks the effective annexation of Hong Kong and brings her people under the extra-territorial control of mainland China. 

The last British Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, said as the law came in, that: "This decision, which rides rough-shod over Hong Kong's elected legislature, marks the end of one-country, two-systems. It is a flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

A good primer on what the law does, how it breaches the joint declaration and why that matters can be found on the BBC

Just hours after implementation, the world has watched mass arrests for people holding British and American flags, and for holding a flag saying ‘Hong Kong Independence’. These are deemed to be in violation of the new law, which seeks to protect the power and dominance of China’s one party communist dictatorship. Press covering protests have been targeted with pepper spray and water cannons. One fifteen year old girl has been arrested for promoting secession. 

Beijing thinks each arrest makes its grip on the territory more secure, but actually each one undermines the attractiveness of the city and increases the incentives for those that want to live in freedom to flee. 

Fortunately the UK has given Hong Kongers a new choice. Around 3 million Hong Kong citizens who either have or are eligible for BN(O) status (and their dependents) will now have 5 years of limited right to remain. After 5 years, they can apply for settled status. After 12 months of settled status, they can apply for British citizenship.

Taiwan too has said that Hong Kongers are free to live in the Republic of China. These options mean that while the Chinese Community Party has seized control of the land of Hong Kong, she may yet lose their most vital asset: the territory’s people. 

As Nus Ghani MP writes in the Telegraph today, the people of Hong Kong now have a choice: to live under Communism or to live under British democracy here in the UK. Hong Kong is still per capita richer than the UK. It is, of course, home for these millions of people and home means a lot. But as we saw with arrests today the creeping cold hand of communism will continue to close over Hong Kong. 

That they have a choice matters. That we’ve ensured promises made to British Nationals that their rights will be upheld in face of coercion and control by communists matters. That we’ve ensured a beacon of hope is lit on a dark day matters. Freedom matters. 

The Adam Smith Institute called for full citizenship for Hong Kongers all the way back in the 1980s when handover was being discussed. We made the same call last year, saying that all those that were eligible should become eligible again. That has now happened and residency and work rights given. We’ve called for a new Hong Kong be allowed to be built in the UK. With freeports on the cards already and planning reform on the agenda, perhaps we’ll get lucky there too. Our work here can sometimes feel abstract, but today it feels tangibly real. We couldn’t do it without you, so thank you. 

Peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice. That’s our offer to the British people of Hong Kong. It’s simple, but it’s good. 

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