Has Beijing been quietly ‘grooming’ Britain’s elite through an exclusive club known as the 48 Group?


Hands interlocked, his face in solemn repose, Peter Mandelson stands deferentially behind China’s Xi Jinping on a visit to Beijing. 

When taken in 2018, the picture drew little, if any, comment. Why would it? Lord Mandelson has, after all, made quite a habit of cosying up to authoritarian leaders. 

But now it has acquired new significance. For Lord Mandelson is the latest senior New Labour figure to be linked to a pro-Beijing lobby group – the 48 Group Club – whose chairman, British businessman Stephen Perry, is managing director of the London Export Corporation. 

According to a new book – Hidden Hand: Exposing How The Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping The World – it is claimed that China’s influence in Britain is far-reaching and unstoppable, with the 48 Group Club exploited by China as a networking hub ‘through which Beijing grooms Britain’s elites’. 

Little wonder, then, that the claims, which first surfaced in The Times last week, are causing disquiet in London, where the hitherto low-key club boasting 650 members is based. Lawyers for the 48 Group have written to the book’s publisher to ‘correct and respond to errors’, but deny claims from its authors that the club is determined to block its publication in the UK. 

The group boasts Lord Heseltine as a founder patron and John Prescott as a patron. Lord Heseltine confirmed his links to the club, which he said was a network for people involved in trade with China. 

Lord Mandelson is the latest senior New Labour figure to be linked to a pro-Beijing lobby group – the 48 Group Club – whose chairman, British businessman Stephen Perry, is managing director of the London Export Corporation

The 48 Group's website also lists Tony Blair as an honorary fellow. Mr Blair insists he attended only one 48 Group Club shindig - an event for its youth wing in 2010 - where he was pictured with Stephen Perry

The 48 Group’s website also lists Tony Blair as an honorary fellow. Mr Blair insists he attended only one 48 Group Club shindig – an event for its youth wing in 2010 – where he was pictured with Stephen Perry

The 48 Group’s website also lists Tony Blair as an honorary fellow. Mr Blair insists he attended only one 48 Group Club shindig – an event for its youth wing in 2010 – where he was pictured with Mr Perry. 

His spokesman told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The event was a short speech and Q&A for young British and Chinese business people. It came as a request through a friend. There was no payment. 

‘This was the first and only time Mr Blair had anything to do with something connected to the organisation.’ 

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw, who is also named in Hidden Hand as a fellow of the 48 Group, said last week: ‘I’ve never heard of them.’ 

Days later, however, a photograph emerged of Mr Straw being awarded a fellowship of the club. ‘I’d completely forgotten about that – it was 13 years ago,’ he told The Times later. 

Last night, Mr Straw told the MoS he had a vague recollection of attending a dinner of the 48 Group in 2007 while he was a Minister and of being made a fellow. However, he denied lobbying for the group or for China. 

China's President Xi Jinping (right) meets with the 48 Group Club chairman Stephen Perry at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 16, 2018

China’s President Xi Jinping (right) meets with the 48 Group Club chairman Stephen Perry at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 16, 2018

On the 48 Club's website, which was briefly taken down amid the book storm, its mission statement is to foster commercial and cultural harmony between Britain and China

On the 48 Club’s website, which was briefly taken down amid the book storm, its mission statement is to foster commercial and cultural harmony between Britain and China

‘I certainly have not lobbied for the 48 Group Club. Our relationship with China was more benign then, their economy was far less strong, and Hong Kong seemed to be reasonably stable,’ he said. 

‘I certainly never lobbied for the Chinese government.’ 

The claims come amid a warning to British universities about the influence of China on campuses. Senior politicians, academics and former diplomats have put a spotlight on foreign interference, drawing particular attention to the financial dependency ofeducational institutions on Chinese research grants and students. 

‘In our judgment, so entrenched are the [Chinese] influence networks among British elites that Britain has passed the point of no return and any attempt to extricate itself from Beijing’s orbit would probably fail,’ wrote Hidden Hand’s Clive Hamilton, a professor of public ethics at Australia’s Charles Sturt University and his co-author, Mareike Ohlberg, a senior academic. 

Prof Hamilton is regarded as an expert on the Chinese Communist Party. Prof Hamilton said his book’s UK publisher, Oneworld, had received a letter from lawyers who claimed Mr Perry and the 48 Group Club had been defamed. 

‘We will be responding robustly,’ he told the MoS. ‘The book is meticulously documented. We stand by our research.’ 

Michael Heseltine presenting Jack Straw with the Fellowship Award from the '48 Group Club' that promotes China/UK relations Chinese New Year dinner at the Guildhall, London in 2007

Michael Heseltine presenting Jack Straw with the Fellowship Award from the ’48 Group Club’ that promotes China/UK relations Chinese New Year dinner at the Guildhall, London in 2007

Mr Perry, 72, studied law at University College, London. After graduating he followed in the footsteps of his father who led a trade mission of 48 businessmen to China in the early 1950s and from which the 48 Group Club takes its name. 

At the time, few UK companies traded behind the so-called Bamboo Curtain during the Cold War. Hidden Hands records that in 2018, Mr Perry had an audience with President Xi, a meeting the authors say shows that the Communist Party regards the 48 Group Club as useful to its efforts to influence policy decisions in Britain. 

At their meeting Mr Xi lauded the work of the club and Mr Perry in turn praised China’s ‘tremendous achievement’ and the Chinese leader’s vision ‘of a community with a shared future for humanity’.

Huawei – ‘a decisive victory for Beijing’ 

At the start of this year, Mr Perry gave a speech at a 48 Group bash in Central London supporting Chinese communications giant Huawei’s attempts to provide infrastructure for British 5G networks. 

Hidden Hand claims Huawei – which has very strong links to the Chinese state – donated £50,000 to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on East Asian Business in 2011. It has also donated £8,600 in 2012 and 2013 to the Tory Party, as well as £11,250 to the Conservative Friends of the Chinese. 

To the dismay of other Western powers, the book says, Huawei’s largesse appeared to have ‘paid off in January 2020 when the British Government gave the green light for Huawei’s participation in Britain’s 5G network’ adding: ‘It was a decisive victory for Beijing.’ 

The 48 Group Club denies any suggestion it tries to exercise influence on behalf of Beijing. Rather, it says, it aims to foster commercial and cultural harmony between Britain and China. 

Former Labour Cabinet Minister Peter Mandelson is named by the book’s authors as a ‘friend’ of China’s International Liaison Department, which befriends foreign groups and individuals for use as lobbyists for China. 

The ILD has put enormous effort into promoting China’s Belt and Road initiative, one of the world’s biggest infrastructure development projects, which has seen China build roads, sea ports and rail tracks in over 70 countries. 

Hidden Hand details how Lord Mandelson has encouraged Britain ‘to actively participate in the building of the Belt and Road Initiative’. 

In a statement, his office said: ‘Lord Mandelson is pleased to support the British Government in their constructive engagement with China through his role as honorary president of the Government-funded Great BritishChina Centre.’ 

They declined to comment on the peer’s links with the 48 Group Club. 

The New Cold War waged against Britain 

According to Hidden Hand, another group, the United Front Work Department, recruits from 120,000 Chinese students studying in British universities to campaign on behalf of China. 

What is the 48 club? A group of British elites to foster relations with China

The 48 Club is a 650-member strong organisation which helps British companies break into the Chinese market, according to its website. 

It dates back to the efforts of businessmen to forge greater Sino-Anglo alliances following the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The first trip in 1953 took 16 representatives of British companies, including current chairman Stephen Perry’s father Jack, to China to discuss trade.

It paved the way for a second visit in 1954 where 48 representatives from British companies embarked on a trade mission to China.

Since its inception, the club claims to command gravitas among the Chinese businesses community to the extent that it is ‘the most respected name in China-Britain trade’.

According to its website, the 48 club’s mission statement is to ‘have a vital role in unfreezing the cultural deficit between China and the world’.

The group was particularly close with former Chinese premier Hu Jintao, who is pictured with several of the 48 club’s members, including Perry.  

The club hosts seminars and dinners for its members, while also offering ‘support and consultancy services to British companies entering China’s market’.

The 48 Club claims to be funded by its members. 

Mr Perry is managing director of the London Export Corporation, a consultancy firm about the Chinese market.

If, for example, an anti-Chinese protest is held anywhere in the UK, then the UFWD could potentially mobilise its young recruits to stage a counter-demonstration. 

Elsewhere in the book, the authors say China is waging a new Cold War against Britain and the West by infiltrating its top universities with military spies. 

Since 2007, more than 2,500 Chinese military scientists have come from abroad to research in Western universities, especially Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – which have a historic intelligence-sharing pact known as the Five Eyes Agreement. 

While some of the scientists have been open about their links to the Chinese military, others have tried to disguise their backgrounds by claiming to be based at Chinese universities that, it transpires, exist only on paper. 

Hundreds of scientists have claimed they belong to the Zhengzhou Information Science and Technology Institute, which is a fake university, according to Hidden Hand. 

‘The Zhengzhou Information Science and Technology Institute does not actually exist,’ say the authors. ‘It has no website, no phone number and no buildings. It does have a post office box in Henan province’s capital city, Zhengzhou, but that’s about it. 

‘The name is in fact a cover for the university that trains China’s military hackers and signals intelligence officers, the People’s Liberation Army Information Engineering University, which is based in Zhengzhou.’ 

The authors cite an earlier work, by Australian academic Alex Joske, which exposed how Chinese military spies infiltrated Western universities in a report two years ago. 

Mr Joske said that British universities were the second-most targeted by Chinese spies after America. He claimed that at least 500 Chinese military scientists were posted to British universities between 2007 and 2017. 

His investigation found that a student from the PLA National University of Defence Technology studied graphene, the ‘miracle material’ 200 times stronger than steel, at Manchester University before returning to China, where his expertise is ‘close to the needs of the military’. 

Last night, a spokesman for Manchester University said: ‘We value our connections with China… All of our interactions as such have to be based on government guidance and regulation. The university carries out due diligence on all research collaborations and we have a clear intellectual property policy which all our researchers, overseas and domestic, must adhere to as part of their professional contracts.’ 

Honeytrap sprung at the 2008 Olympics  

Hidden Hand claims that Chinese honey traps have allegedly targeted a British politician and a No10 aide on two separate occasions in China. 

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Ian Clement, a deputy to then London Mayor Boris Johnson, became a victim. 

Mr Clement, then 44, was at a party in Beijing on the opening night of the Games, also attended by Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and then US President George Bush.

He met an attractive Chinese woman who he agreed to see again for a drink. But when Mr Clement returned to his hotel, his admirer was already sitting at the reception. After a couple of drinks at the bar, they went to his room, where Mr Clement lost consciousness. 

He later discovered that the woman had ransacked his files and downloaded material from his Blackberry device. In the same year, an unidentified aide to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown was approached by a Chinese woman at a disco in a Shanghai hotel. 

He took her back to his hotel room and discovered his Blackberry stolen after she left the following morning. He duly alerted the Prime Minister’s Special Branch team and was reprimanded. 

The book also reveals German and French intelligence uncovered how Chinese spies lured European government workers to China with promises of money, using the professional social media site, LinkedIn. 

Tens of thousands of government workers, academics and researchers in France and Germany were approached through LinkedIn by Chinese individuals posing as consultants, think-tank staff and even entrepreneurs. 

The 48 Group Club, also known as 'The Icebreakers', are a 500-strong outfit with headquarters in Bayswater

The 48 Group Club, also known as ‘The Icebreakers’, are a 500-strong outfit with headquarters in Bayswater

All-expenses jollies – then comes the sting 

Hundreds were then lured to China with offers of money and jobs on all-expenses-paid flights and entertained for days by their hosts, who then pumped them for information. 

The authors write: ‘Those who accepted spent a few days being befriended through social activities and were then asked to provide information. It is believed that in some cases they were photographed in compromising situations, such as accepting payments, making them prone to blackmail.’ 

Hidden Hand has arrived at a difficult juncture in British-Chinese relations. Last week, Boris Johnson announced that up to three million Hong Kong residents are to be offered the chance to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship. 

He said Hong Kong’s freedoms were being violated by a new Beijing security law and those affected would be offered a ‘route’ out of the former UK colony. 

The 48 Group Club last night denied helping the Chinese International Liaison Department, saying: ‘The Club has no formal relationship with the ILD and we unequivocally deny any accusation that we help the ILD lobby the British government or lobby on behalf of the ILD.’ 

Mr Perry said: ‘It has been reported in the media that we have initiated legal proceedings against the authors of a book entitled Hidden Hand. This is not the case. 

‘It became clear that the book contained a number of inaccurate and potentially libellous statements relating to the role and function of the 48 Group Club and some of its members. 

‘On taking legal advice, the Club wrote to the publishers of the book to request sight of the text and opportunity to correct and respond to the errors in the book. Errors have been acknowledged by the publishers and we are working to correct the others.’ 

He added: ‘Being an independent body, the 48 Group Club does not have a formal relationship with any other organisation, whether inside or outside China.’ 

The Chinese Embassy in London did not respond last night.

Who are the powerful movers and shakers who lead the 48 Club? 

Board members

Stephen Perry (Chairman), Managing Director – London Export Corporation

Keith Bennett (Vice Chairman) Chairman– Bennett Associates

Matt Jackson (Secretary General), International Markets – KPMG LLP UK

Mei Sim Lai OBE DL (Treasurer), Principal – Lai Peters & Co

Aman Wang (Committee Member), Partner at KPMG LLP

Vice Presidents 

Ben Chapman , Life President All Party Parliamentary China Group;

Ben Pape, Chairman – PMP;

Peter Batey OBE (Vice President, Beijing), Chairman – Vermilion Partners Ltd;

Jeremy Butler, Managing Director – One Wigwam Ltd;

Lance Browne CBE (Chairman Awards Committee), ViceChairman – Standard Chartered plc;

Dr Johnny Hon (Vice President), Chairman – Global Group International Holdings Limited;

Jude Woodward, Executive Director – China Arts Space;

Club Patrons

Lord Heseltine, former Conservative deputy prime minister 

Lord Prescott, former Labour deputy prime minister 

Has Beijing been quietly ‘grooming’ Britain’s elite through an exclusive club known as the 48 Group?


Hands interlocked, his face in solemn repose, Peter Mandelson stands deferentially behind China’s Xi Jinping on a visit to Beijing. 

When taken in 2018, the picture drew little, if any, comment. Why would it? Lord Mandelson has, after all, made quite a habit of cosying up to authoritarian leaders. 

But now it has acquired new significance. For Lord Mandelson is the latest senior New Labour figure to be linked to a pro-Beijing lobby group – the 48 Group Club – whose chairman, British businessman Stephen Perry, is managing director of the London Export Corporation. 

According to a new book – Hidden Hand: Exposing How The Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping The World – it is claimed that China’s influence in Britain is far-reaching and unstoppable, with the 48 Group Club exploited by China as a networking hub ‘through which Beijing grooms Britain’s elites’. 

Little wonder, then, that the claims, which first surfaced in The Times last week, are causing disquiet in London, where the hitherto low-key club boasting 650 members is based. Lawyers for the 48 Group have written to the book’s publisher to ‘correct and respond to errors’, but deny claims from its authors that the club is determined to block its publication in the UK. 

The group boasts Lord Heseltine as a founder patron and John Prescott as a patron. Lord Heseltine confirmed his links to the club, which he said was a network for people involved in trade with China. 

Lord Mandelson is the latest senior New Labour figure to be linked to a pro-Beijing lobby group – the 48 Group Club – whose chairman, British businessman Stephen Perry, is managing director of the London Export Corporation

The 48 Group's website also lists Tony Blair as an honorary fellow. Mr Blair insists he attended only one 48 Group Club shindig - an event for its youth wing in 2010 - where he was pictured with Stephen Perry

The 48 Group’s website also lists Tony Blair as an honorary fellow. Mr Blair insists he attended only one 48 Group Club shindig – an event for its youth wing in 2010 – where he was pictured with Stephen Perry

The 48 Group’s website also lists Tony Blair as an honorary fellow. Mr Blair insists he attended only one 48 Group Club shindig – an event for its youth wing in 2010 – where he was pictured with Mr Perry. 

His spokesman told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The event was a short speech and Q&A for young British and Chinese business people. It came as a request through a friend. There was no payment. 

‘This was the first and only time Mr Blair had anything to do with something connected to the organisation.’ 

Former Home Secretary Jack Straw, who is also named in Hidden Hand as a fellow of the 48 Group, said last week: ‘I’ve never heard of them.’ 

Days later, however, a photograph emerged of Mr Straw being awarded a fellowship of the club. ‘I’d completely forgotten about that – it was 13 years ago,’ he told The Times later. 

Last night, Mr Straw told the MoS he had a vague recollection of attending a dinner of the 48 Group in 2007 while he was a Minister and of being made a fellow. However, he denied lobbying for the group or for China. 

China's President Xi Jinping (right) meets with the 48 Group Club chairman Stephen Perry at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 16, 2018

China’s President Xi Jinping (right) meets with the 48 Group Club chairman Stephen Perry at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 16, 2018

On the 48 Club's website, which was briefly taken down amid the book storm, its mission statement is to foster commercial and cultural harmony between Britain and China

On the 48 Club’s website, which was briefly taken down amid the book storm, its mission statement is to foster commercial and cultural harmony between Britain and China

‘I certainly have not lobbied for the 48 Group Club. Our relationship with China was more benign then, their economy was far less strong, and Hong Kong seemed to be reasonably stable,’ he said. 

‘I certainly never lobbied for the Chinese government.’ 

The claims come amid a warning to British universities about the influence of China on campuses. Senior politicians, academics and former diplomats have put a spotlight on foreign interference, drawing particular attention to the financial dependency ofeducational institutions on Chinese research grants and students. 

‘In our judgment, so entrenched are the [Chinese] influence networks among British elites that Britain has passed the point of no return and any attempt to extricate itself from Beijing’s orbit would probably fail,’ wrote Hidden Hand’s Clive Hamilton, a professor of public ethics at Australia’s Charles Sturt University and his co-author, Mareike Ohlberg, a senior academic. 

Prof Hamilton is regarded as an expert on the Chinese Communist Party. Prof Hamilton said his book’s UK publisher, Oneworld, had received a letter from lawyers who claimed Mr Perry and the 48 Group Club had been defamed. 

‘We will be responding robustly,’ he told the MoS. ‘The book is meticulously documented. We stand by our research.’ 

Michael Heseltine presenting Jack Straw with the Fellowship Award from the '48 Group Club' that promotes China/UK relations Chinese New Year dinner at the Guildhall, London in 2007

Michael Heseltine presenting Jack Straw with the Fellowship Award from the ’48 Group Club’ that promotes China/UK relations Chinese New Year dinner at the Guildhall, London in 2007

Mr Perry, 72, studied law at University College, London. After graduating he followed in the footsteps of his father who led a trade mission of 48 businessmen to China in the early 1950s and from which the 48 Group Club takes its name. 

At the time, few UK companies traded behind the so-called Bamboo Curtain during the Cold War. Hidden Hands records that in 2018, Mr Perry had an audience with President Xi, a meeting the authors say shows that the Communist Party regards the 48 Group Club as useful to its efforts to influence policy decisions in Britain. 

At their meeting Mr Xi lauded the work of the club and Mr Perry in turn praised China’s ‘tremendous achievement’ and the Chinese leader’s vision ‘of a community with a shared future for humanity’.

Huawei – ‘a decisive victory for Beijing’ 

At the start of this year, Mr Perry gave a speech at a 48 Group bash in Central London supporting Chinese communications giant Huawei’s attempts to provide infrastructure for British 5G networks. 

Hidden Hand claims Huawei – which has very strong links to the Chinese state – donated £50,000 to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on East Asian Business in 2011. It has also donated £8,600 in 2012 and 2013 to the Tory Party, as well as £11,250 to the Conservative Friends of the Chinese. 

To the dismay of other Western powers, the book says, Huawei’s largesse appeared to have ‘paid off in January 2020 when the British Government gave the green light for Huawei’s participation in Britain’s 5G network’ adding: ‘It was a decisive victory for Beijing.’ 

The 48 Group Club denies any suggestion it tries to exercise influence on behalf of Beijing. Rather, it says, it aims to foster commercial and cultural harmony between Britain and China. 

Former Labour Cabinet Minister Peter Mandelson is named by the book’s authors as a ‘friend’ of China’s International Liaison Department, which befriends foreign groups and individuals for use as lobbyists for China. 

The ILD has put enormous effort into promoting China’s Belt and Road initiative, one of the world’s biggest infrastructure development projects, which has seen China build roads, sea ports and rail tracks in over 70 countries. 

Hidden Hand details how Lord Mandelson has encouraged Britain ‘to actively participate in the building of the Belt and Road Initiative’. 

In a statement, his office said: ‘Lord Mandelson is pleased to support the British Government in their constructive engagement with China through his role as honorary president of the Government-funded Great BritishChina Centre.’ 

They declined to comment on the peer’s links with the 48 Group Club. 

The New Cold War waged against Britain 

According to Hidden Hand, another group, the United Front Work Department, recruits from 120,000 Chinese students studying in British universities to campaign on behalf of China. 

What is the 48 club? A group of British elites to foster relations with China

The 48 Club is a 650-member strong organisation which helps British companies break into the Chinese market, according to its website. 

It dates back to the efforts of businessmen to forge greater Sino-Anglo alliances following the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The first trip in 1953 took 16 representatives of British companies, including current chairman Stephen Perry’s father Jack, to China to discuss trade.

It paved the way for a second visit in 1954 where 48 representatives from British companies embarked on a trade mission to China.

Since its inception, the club claims to command gravitas among the Chinese businesses community to the extent that it is ‘the most respected name in China-Britain trade’.

According to its website, the 48 club’s mission statement is to ‘have a vital role in unfreezing the cultural deficit between China and the world’.

The group was particularly close with former Chinese premier Hu Jintao, who is pictured with several of the 48 club’s members, including Perry.  

The club hosts seminars and dinners for its members, while also offering ‘support and consultancy services to British companies entering China’s market’.

The 48 Club claims to be funded by its members. 

Mr Perry is managing director of the London Export Corporation, a consultancy firm about the Chinese market.

If, for example, an anti-Chinese protest is held anywhere in the UK, then the UFWD could potentially mobilise its young recruits to stage a counter-demonstration. 

Elsewhere in the book, the authors say China is waging a new Cold War against Britain and the West by infiltrating its top universities with military spies. 

Since 2007, more than 2,500 Chinese military scientists have come from abroad to research in Western universities, especially Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – which have a historic intelligence-sharing pact known as the Five Eyes Agreement. 

While some of the scientists have been open about their links to the Chinese military, others have tried to disguise their backgrounds by claiming to be based at Chinese universities that, it transpires, exist only on paper. 

Hundreds of scientists have claimed they belong to the Zhengzhou Information Science and Technology Institute, which is a fake university, according to Hidden Hand. 

‘The Zhengzhou Information Science and Technology Institute does not actually exist,’ say the authors. ‘It has no website, no phone number and no buildings. It does have a post office box in Henan province’s capital city, Zhengzhou, but that’s about it. 

‘The name is in fact a cover for the university that trains China’s military hackers and signals intelligence officers, the People’s Liberation Army Information Engineering University, which is based in Zhengzhou.’ 

The authors cite an earlier work, by Australian academic Alex Joske, which exposed how Chinese military spies infiltrated Western universities in a report two years ago. 

Mr Joske said that British universities were the second-most targeted by Chinese spies after America. He claimed that at least 500 Chinese military scientists were posted to British universities between 2007 and 2017. 

His investigation found that a student from the PLA National University of Defence Technology studied graphene, the ‘miracle material’ 200 times stronger than steel, at Manchester University before returning to China, where his expertise is ‘close to the needs of the military’. 

Last night, a spokesman for Manchester University said: ‘We value our connections with China… All of our interactions as such have to be based on government guidance and regulation. The university carries out due diligence on all research collaborations and we have a clear intellectual property policy which all our researchers, overseas and domestic, must adhere to as part of their professional contracts.’ 

Honeytrap sprung at the 2008 Olympics  

Hidden Hand claims that Chinese honey traps have allegedly targeted a British politician and a No10 aide on two separate occasions in China. 

During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Ian Clement, a deputy to then London Mayor Boris Johnson, became a victim. 

Mr Clement, then 44, was at a party in Beijing on the opening night of the Games, also attended by Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and then US President George Bush.

He met an attractive Chinese woman who he agreed to see again for a drink. But when Mr Clement returned to his hotel, his admirer was already sitting at the reception. After a couple of drinks at the bar, they went to his room, where Mr Clement lost consciousness. 

He later discovered that the woman had ransacked his files and downloaded material from his Blackberry device. In the same year, an unidentified aide to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown was approached by a Chinese woman at a disco in a Shanghai hotel. 

He took her back to his hotel room and discovered his Blackberry stolen after she left the following morning. He duly alerted the Prime Minister’s Special Branch team and was reprimanded. 

The book also reveals German and French intelligence uncovered how Chinese spies lured European government workers to China with promises of money, using the professional social media site, LinkedIn. 

Tens of thousands of government workers, academics and researchers in France and Germany were approached through LinkedIn by Chinese individuals posing as consultants, think-tank staff and even entrepreneurs. 

All-expenses jollies – then comes the sting 

Hundreds were then lured to China with offers of money and jobs on all-expenses-paid flights and entertained for days by their hosts, who then pumped them for information. 

The authors write: ‘Those who accepted spent a few days being befriended through social activities and were then asked to provide information. It is believed that in some cases they were photographed in compromising situations, such as accepting payments, making them prone to blackmail.’ 

Hidden Hand has arrived at a difficult juncture in British-Chinese relations. Last week, Boris Johnson announced that up to three million Hong Kong residents are to be offered the chance to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship. 

He said Hong Kong’s freedoms were being violated by a new Beijing security law and those affected would be offered a ‘route’ out of the former UK colony. 

The 48 Group Club last night denied helping the Chinese International Liaison Department, saying: ‘The Club has no formal relationship with the ILD and we unequivocally deny any accusation that we help the ILD lobby the British government or lobby on behalf of the ILD.’ 

Mr Perry said: ‘It has been reported in the media that we have initiated legal proceedings against the authors of a book entitled Hidden Hand. This is not the case. 

‘It became clear that the book contained a number of inaccurate and potentially libellous statements relating to the role and function of the 48 Group Club and some of its members. 

‘On taking legal advice, the Club wrote to the publishers of the book to request sight of the text and opportunity to correct and respond to the errors in the book. Errors have been acknowledged by the publishers and we are working to correct the others.’ 

He added: ‘Being an independent body, the 48 Group Club does not have a formal relationship with any other organisation, whether inside or outside China.’ 

The Chinese Embassy in London did not respond last night.

Who are the powerful movers and shakers who lead the 48 Club? 

Board members

Stephen Perry (Chairman), Managing Director – London Export Corporation

Keith Bennett (Vice Chairman) Chairman– Bennett Associates

Matt Jackson (Secretary General), International Markets – KPMG LLP UK

Mei Sim Lai OBE DL (Treasurer), Principal – Lai Peters & Co

Aman Wang (Committee Member), Partner at KPMG LLP

Vice Presidents 

Ben Chapman , Life President All Party Parliamentary China Group;

Ben Pape, Chairman – PMP;

Peter Batey OBE (Vice President, Beijing), Chairman – Vermilion Partners Ltd;

Jeremy Butler, Managing Director – One Wigwam Ltd;

Lance Browne CBE (Chairman Awards Committee), ViceChairman – Standard Chartered plc;

Dr Johnny Hon (Vice President), Chairman – Global Group International Holdings Limited;

Jude Woodward, Executive Director – China Arts Space;

Club Patrons

Lord Heseltine, former Conservative deputy prime minister 

Lord Prescott, former Labour deputy prime minister 

Thousands of villagers swarm to hunt for a ‘mysterious creature’ after hearing ‘dragon’s humming’


Thousands in China swarm to hunt for a ‘mysterious creature’ after hearing ‘a dragon’s growling’ from the mountains

  • Villagers in Guizhou said that they had heard baffling noises from the mountains
  • Thousands of locals allegedly went to search for the source of the curious sound
  • Some described it as ‘a dragon’s growling’, others claimed it was ‘a tiger’s roar’ 
  • Experts said the sound was coming from a type of small bird that sings loudly

Thousands of villagers in China have flocked to search for what they thought was a ‘mysterious creature’ after hearing loud noises that apparently sounded like a dragon’s growling.

Trending footage emerged recently shows curious locals swarming to the top of the mountain in Xiushui of China’s southwestern province Guizhou while the supposedly mystical beast can be heard making the booming noises.

Local officials even had to set roadblocks to stop people from gathering while sending a team of experts to investigate the strange sound.

The villagers in Xiushui had rushed to the mountain hills after some farmers claimed that they had heard some strange noises

Thousands of villagers in China’s south-western province Guizhou have flocked to search for a ‘mysterious creature’ after hearing a deep humming that sounded like a dragon’s roar

The villagers in Xiushui had rushed to the mountain hills after some farmers claimed that they had heard some strange noises on June 20.

Footage filmed by onlookers shows local residents gathering in the area while they intently listen to the low-pitched sound. 

Some people can be heard shouting excitedly: ‘It’s growling! It’s growling!’ 

The videos has also drawn enormous attention on Chinese social media after some web users claimed that the sound had come from a dragon while others said it was a tiger’s roar.

Guizhou officials sent a team of experts to search the area after the videos became viral online.

The villagers in Xiushui of Guizhou's Weining Yi, Hui, and Miao Autonomous County had rushed to the mountain hills after some farmers claimed that they had heard some strange noises. The picture shows the Miao villages in Guizhou province, south-western China

The villagers in Xiushui of Guizhou’s Weining Yi, Hui, and Miao Autonomous County had rushed to the mountain hills after some farmers claimed that they had heard some strange noises. The picture shows the Miao villages in Guizhou province, south-western China

Zoologists later revealed that the sound was, in fact, coming from a type of small bird called the yellow-legged buttonquail.

Hardly bigger than a sparrow, the little ground birds have a disproportionately loud song.

During the breeding season, the females repeatedly utter the booming hoots which can be heard at a distance as far as 100 metres (328 feet).

The expert’s conclusion was confirmed by some villagers who had spotted the animals while they were making the noise.

It was later revealed by zoologists that the so-called ‘dragon’s humming’ was, in fact, coming from yellow-legged buttonquails. The picture shows a female yellow-legged buttonquail

Liu Fuqiong, a local primary school teacher, told Pear Video: ‘It hummed twice or three times repeatedly every six or seven minutes. The sound was very deep. I thought it was quite strange as well.

‘A dozen of villagers followed the sound to the cornfield and chased down a yellow bird with a really short tail.’

Ran Jingcheng, director of the provincial wildlife protection centre, told reporters: ‘Residents in other areas had heard similar sounds before. They just didn’t think too much about it.’

Local police said that they had detained at least four residents for spreading rumours online, claiming the sound was a dragon’s humming.

Thousands of villagers swarm to hunt for a ‘mysterious creature’ after hearing ‘dragon’s humming’


Thousands in China swarm to hunt for a ‘mysterious creature’ after hearing ‘a dragon’s growling’ from the mountains

  • Villagers in Guizhou said that they had heard baffling noises from the mountains
  • Thousands of locals allegedly went to search for the source of the curious sound
  • Some described it as ‘a dragon’s growling’, others claimed it was ‘a tiger’s roar’ 
  • Experts said the sound was coming from a type of small bird that sings loudly

Thousands of villagers in China have flocked to search for what they thought was a ‘mysterious creature’ after hearing loud noises that apparently sounded like a dragon’s growling.

Trending footage emerged recently shows curious locals swarming to the top of the mountain in Xiushui of China’s southwestern province Guizhou while the supposedly mystical beast can be heard making the booming noises.

Local officials even had to set roadblocks to stop people from gathering while sending a team of experts to investigate the strange sound.

The villagers in Xiushui had rushed to the mountain hills after some farmers claimed that they had heard some strange noises

Thousands of villagers in China’s south-western province Guizhou have flocked to search for a ‘mysterious creature’ after hearing a deep humming that sounded like a dragon’s roar

The villagers in Xiushui had rushed to the mountain hills after some farmers claimed that they had heard some strange noises on June 20.

Footage filmed by onlookers shows local residents gathering in the area while they intently listen to the low-pitched sound. 

Some people can be heard shouting excitedly: ‘It’s growling! It’s growling!’ 

The videos has also drawn enormous attention on Chinese social media after some web users claimed that the sound had come from a dragon while others said it was a tiger’s roar.

Guizhou officials sent a team of experts to search the area after the videos became viral online.

The villagers in Xiushui of Guizhou's Weining Yi, Hui, and Miao Autonomous County had rushed to the mountain hills after some farmers claimed that they had heard some strange noises. The picture shows the Miao villages in Guizhou province, south-western China

The villagers in Xiushui of Guizhou’s Weining Yi, Hui, and Miao Autonomous County had rushed to the mountain hills after some farmers claimed that they had heard some strange noises. The picture shows the Miao villages in Guizhou province, south-western China

Zoologists later revealed that the sound was, in fact, coming from a type of small bird called the yellow-legged buttonquail.

Hardly bigger than a sparrow, the little ground birds have a disproportionately loud song.

During the breeding season, the females repeatedly utter the booming hoots which can be heard at a distance as far as 100 metres (328 feet).

The expert’s conclusion was confirmed by some villagers who had spotted the animals while they were making the noise.

It was later revealed by zoologists that the so-called ‘dragon’s humming’ was, in fact, coming from yellow-legged buttonquails. The picture shows a female yellow-legged buttonquail

Liu Fuqiong, a local primary school teacher, told Pear Video: ‘It hummed twice or three times repeatedly every six or seven minutes. The sound was very deep. I thought it was quite strange as well.

‘A dozen of villagers followed the sound to the cornfield and chased down a yellow bird with a really short tail.’

Ran Jingcheng, director of the provincial wildlife protection centre, told reporters: ‘Residents in other areas had heard similar sounds before. They just didn’t think too much about it.’

Local police said that they had detained at least four residents for spreading rumours online, claiming the sound was a dragon’s humming.

‘Hundreds of thousands’ of Hong Kongers will accept Boris’s escape route to the UK


A London-based Hong Kong student has said that she is keen to take up UK government’s ‘lifeboat’ offer to live and settle in Britain after China launched a brutal crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy protesters with its new national security law.

Eunice Wong, who has just finished her Master’s degree in the UK, said the escape route provided by No. 10 was ‘the only option’ for her because it would no longer be safe for her to go back home.

Ms Wong could be among ‘hundreds of thousands of people’ who plan to uproot their lives in the former British colony and come to the UK to avoid being persecuted by Beijing and Hong Kong authorities. 

‘Hundreds of thousands of people’ from Hong Kong might come to the UK after the Government offered an escape route to around three million British National Overseas passport holders in the former colony, according to an activist who has been granted asylum  

Eunice Wong, who has just finished her Master's degree in the UK, said the escape route provided by No. 10 was 'the only option' for her out of fears that she could be persecuted back home. Pictured, a man is detained by riot police during a demonstration on July 1 in Hong Kong

Eunice Wong, who has just finished her Master’s degree in the UK, said the escape route provided by No. 10 was ‘the only option’ for her out of fears that she could be persecuted back home. Pictured, a man is detained by riot police during a demonstration on July 1 in Hong Kong

Boris Johnson yesterday unveiled firm plans for the UK to take in up to three million Hong Kong residents who hold the British National Overseas (BNO) passports as Downing Street blasted China over the draconian new clampdown on the opposition. 

Q&A on Hong Kong’s British Nationals Overseas (BNOs)

What is a British National (overseas)?

Hong Kongers could register for this special status before the 1997 handover. They get a UK passport but no automatic right to live and work in the UK. You cannot apply to become a BNO.

How many of them are there?

As of February, there were 349,881 BNO passport holders. The Government estimates that there are around 2.9million BNOs currently in Hong Kong.

What is Britain offering them?

A path to citizenship. BNOs will get five years ‘limited leave to remain’. They can then apply for ‘settled status’. After 12 months with settled status, they can apply for citizenship. Their close family will also be eligible. 

‘This lifeboat scheme will help these British Nationals and their dependents to come to the UK if they need to. BNOs are given the chance to work and contribute into society and work towards citizenship which was previously restricted with visas,’ Ms Wong told MailOnline. 

The Imperial College London graduate, who is in her 20s, said that because she had spoken to media in the UK, she would be deemed an offender of the security law and persecuted by Hong Kong authorities. 

But she noted that it was hard to estimate how many people in Hong Kong would move to the UK through the route at present.

‘It depends on the details released from the Home Office [before we can make] such a big decision, as Hong Kong is where our roots are and leaving our home is a big change,’ she added.

‘Furthermore, there is no access to public funds so BNOs who come will have to be financially well off in order to support themselves and are able to come and get a job.

‘Some people who are eligible for a BNO might already have a different nationality, therefore, they might not want to come to the UK.’ 

‘Hundreds of thousands of people’ from Hong Kong might take advantage of No.10’s offer and move to the UK, said a former British consulate worker who alleged he was tortured in China.

Simon Cheng is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office in response to China’s crackdown on the Hong Kong anti-government movement after he was allegedly shackled, beaten, forced to stand for long hours in secret detention in the Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Mr Cheng, a British overseas national, announced Wednesday night that his immigration application had been approved last Friday by the British government, possibly heralding a new wave of immigrants from the Asian financial hub.

Simon Cheng (pictured) is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office in relation to China’s crackdown on the Hong Kong anti-government movement after he was allegedly shackled, beaten, forced to stand for long hours in secret detention in China

Simon Cheng (pictured) is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office in relation to China’s crackdown on the Hong Kong anti-government movement after he was allegedly shackled, beaten, forced to stand for long hours in secret detention in China

The file picture taken on November 29, 2019 shows Hong Kong protesters wearing masks depicting Simon Cheng old banners as they attend a rally outside the British Consulate General in Hong Kong after he was allegedly tortured for long hours in Shenzhen, China

The file picture taken on November 29, 2019 shows Hong Kong protesters wearing masks depicting Simon Cheng old banners as they attend a rally outside the British Consulate General in Hong Kong after he was allegedly tortured for long hours in Shenzhen, China

Thousands of Hong Kong citizens have already expressed their desire to move to Britain on social media platforms.

A Facebook group named the ‘Official Group for BNO Equality Movement’ has seen nearly 3,000 new members in the past month.

Numerous Hong Kong websites have published articles explaining the process of applying for a BNO, including one titled ‘Things you must know before immigration’.

Hong Kongers have also flocked to voice their plan to escape to the UK on Twitter.

One wrote: ‘Unlike most Chinese, we will contribute and maintain the value of freedom and democracy in UK.’

As of February, there were nearly 350,000 BNO passport holders, while the Government estimates there are around 2.9million BNOs living in Hong Kong. 

Police officers are seen in front of a water cannon during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong on July 1

Police officers are seen in front of a water cannon during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong on July 1

Police officers detain protesters during a rally against a new national security law on the 23rd anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 1

Police officers detain protesters during a rally against a new national security law on the 23rd anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July 1

Mr Cheng, a British overseas national, was detained in China for over two weeks last August after Beijing accused the former consulate worker of inciting unrest amid mass anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong. 

The 29-year-old announced in a Facebook post Wednesday night that his immigration application had been approved last Friday by the British government.  

He wrote: ‘The UK Home Office has granted me the eligibility for asylum. The Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Office are also introducing immigration policies to protect the overseas British passport holders and their family members.

‘I sincerely thank the British government for fulfilling its moral obligations and showcasing political courage to rescue British citizens. [I] hope I can be the first (of many), and those Hong Kong citizens who have not been taken into account could seek protection,’ the pro-democracy supporter added.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured in the House of Commons on July 1) has offered three million British Nationals Overseas (BNO) passport holders to relocate to the UK after China imposed draconian new national security law in the Asian financial hub

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured in the House of Commons on July 1) has offered three million British Nationals Overseas (BNO) passport holders to relocate to the UK after China imposed draconian new national security law in the Asian financial hub

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on July 1

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on July 1

It comes after British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has offered three million British Nationals Overseas (BNO) passport holders to relocate to the UK after China imposed draconian new national security law in the financial hub.

Mr Raab told MPs yesterday the ‘bespoke’ new arrangement to be implemented in the coming months would grant BNOs five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK with the ability to live and work.

They would then be eligible to apply for settled status and would be able to apply for citizenship after 12 months with that status. 

However, the Foreign Secretary later said ‘only a proportion’ would be likely to take up the new status.

He also said that if Beijing tried to stop people with British National (Overseas) status from leaving Hong Kong, there would be little that could be done by the UK. 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (pictured) told reporters at a press conference today that 'all the consequences shall be borne by the UK side' after Britain drew up plans to offer residency to three million Hong Kongers

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (pictured) told reporters at a press conference today that ‘all the consequences shall be borne by the UK side’ after Britain drew up plans to offer residency to three million Hong Kongers

China today threatened to punish Britain for offering three million Hong Kongers an escape route from Beijing’s crackdown on dissent – warning at a press conference that the UK would ‘bear the consequences’. 

Hours after Britain accused China of manoeuvring to ‘strangle’ Hong Kong’s freedoms with a ‘grave and deeply disturbing’ new security law, Beijing’s embassy in London called the offer a breach of international law and warned: ‘We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures.’  

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that ‘the UK should bear any consequences caused by this… Hong Kong matters are China’s domestic affairs, and no countries have any right to intervene.’  



Coronavirus China: ‘Pet’ market sells live animals for meat


Chinese vendors sold extremely sick or even dying cats, dogs and guinea pigs at a so-called ‘pet’ market which also offered live animals for their meat, campaigners have revealed.

Stalls in the filthy market sold live pigeons, chickens, and quails as food while other creatures, such as rabbits, were crammed into faeces-encrusted cages waiting for their new owners, according to an undercover investigation.

Animal rights group PETA has warned that markets like this one could cause even more pandemics, such as the bird flu, when the world is already battling COVID-19.

A video provided by PETA shows two ill-looking dogs being caged at the so-called pet market in eastern China in May. Investigators found that vendors there also sold live animals as food 

The footage also shows a cat appearing to be severely ill while lying in a shared cage in the market. Animal campaigners warned such an environment could cause more pandemics

The footage also shows a cat appearing to be severely ill while lying in a shared cage in the market. Animal campaigners warned such an environment could cause more pandemics 

A guinea pig was spotted lying motionless in a cage at the market in eastern China. The footage was allegedly filmed in May when COVID-19 was on the rise in many parts of the world

A guinea pig was spotted lying motionless in a cage at the market in eastern China. The footage was allegedly filmed in May when COVID-19 was on the rise in many parts of the world 

Footage supplied to MailOnline by PETA shows some birds and chickens waiting to be traded in dirty coops while other creatures, such as guinea pigs and rabbits, were squeezed into cages in the dozens.

The market appeared to offer more than half a dozen species, either sold for their meat or as companion animals.

No veterinary care was seen provided to those sick animals.

One section of the video shows a cat lying in its shared cage looking helpless and very ill while another part purports to show a dying guinea pig on offer.

Dead animals were also spotted dumped into bins near the living.

Vendors told investigator that the live pigeons, chickens, and quails were sold for their meat

Vendors told investigator that the live pigeons, chickens, and quails were sold for their meat

Some animals were crammed into filthy cages in the dozens, according to footage from PETA

Some animals were crammed into filthy cages in the dozens, according to footage from PETA

The video was allegedly filmed at an unnamed market in eastern China in May when COVID-19 cases were on the rise in many parts of the world.

The deadly disease was first detected in a live animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Although its exact origins remain unknown, experts believe it came from bats and was passed onto humans through wild animals sold as food.

But animal rights campaigners concerned that live animal markets like this one could trigger another outbreak of the bird flu.

‘Diseases run rampant when animals are confined to filthy, enclosed spaces,’ said PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker.

‘While the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic remains unpredictable, one thing is certain: Live-animal markets will continue to put the human population at enormous risk.’ 

Animal rights campaigners concerned that live animal markets like this one could trigger another outbreak of the bird flu, especially from the H7N9 virus. 'Diseases run rampant when animals are confined to filthy, enclosed spaces,' said PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker

Animal rights campaigners concerned that live animal markets like this one could trigger another outbreak of the bird flu, especially from the H7N9 virus. ‘Diseases run rampant when animals are confined to filthy, enclosed spaces,’ said PETA Senior Vice President Jason Baker 

Investigators spotted what looks like a dead rabbit dumped in a bin near cages of live animals

Investigators spotted what looks like a dead rabbit dumped in a bin near cages of live animals 

Earlier this year, two Chinese provinces were hit by ‘highly pathogenic’ bird flu when Beijing was in the thick of containing the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly 2,000 fowl were killed by the H5N6 strain of avian influenza on a poultry farm in Sichuan Province, Chinese agricultural authority announced yesterday.

Just eight days earlier, 4,500 chickens were reported to have died of the H5N1 virus in the province of Hunan.

H7N9, another strain of avian influenza virus, causes little or no illness in poultry but can jump onto humans.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described it as ‘one of the most lethal influenza viruses’.

The strain was first detected in human in China in March 2013.

As of 18 June 2020, a total of 1,568 laboratory-confirmed human H7N9 infections, including at least 615 deaths, had been reported to the WHO.  

Boris Johnson says China’s Hong Kong crackdown could scupper Huawei deal


China’s ‘unacceptable’ crackdown in Hong Kong could shut the door to Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G mobile network, Boris Johnson has said as London and Beijing traded blows today. 

Mr Johnson said the draconian new security law that China has imposed on Hong Kong was ‘plainly an unacceptable breach’ of the freedoms that the city was guaranteed after Britain handed it back in 1997. 

Linking the crisis to the Huawei deal, the PM told the Evening Standard that ‘I don’t want to see our critical national infrastructure at risk of being in any way controlled by potentially hostile state vendors… so we have to think very carefully about how to proceed now.’ 

Q&A on Hong Kong’s British Nationals Overseas (BNOs)

What is a British National (overseas)?

Hong Kongers could register for this special status before the 1997 handover. They get a UK passport but no automatic right to live and work in the UK. You cannot apply to become a BNO.

How many of them are there?

As of February, there were 349,881 BNO passport holders. The Government estimates that there are around 2.9million BNOs currently in Hong Kong.

What is Britain offering them?

A path to citizenship. BNOs will get five years ‘limited leave to remain’. They can then apply for ‘settled status’. After 12 months with settled status, they can apply for citizenship. Their close family will also be eligible. 

Mr Johnson has been under massive pressure to change course on Huawei after agreeing in January to give the Chinese tech giant a ‘limited’ role in the 5G network, despite fears that Beijing would use it for espionage. 

Since then, the coronavirus pandemic and the chaos in Hong Kong have thrown Britain’s relations with China into crisis – with Beijing now threatening to punish the UK for offering refuge to Hong Kongers.  

Hundreds were arrested in a crackdown on Hong Kong protesters yesterday just hours after the new law came into force, bringing in long prison sentences for dissent and trials run by the mainland Communist Party. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday unveiled plans to offer residency and a possible route to citizenship to British Nationals (Overseas), a group of nearly three million people with links to Hong Kong. 

But Beijing regards them as Chinese nationals and its embassy in London warned today that ‘we firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures’.     

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press conference today that ‘the UK should bear any consequences caused by this… Hong Kong matters are China’s domestic affairs, and no countries have any right to intervene.’  

Mr Raab admitted last night that there would be little the UK could do if China tried to stop Hong Kongers from leaving.    

China did not say how it might retaliate, but it has recently hit Australia with a series of tariffs, export bans and warnings against travelling and studying in the country after it led global calls for an inquiry into coronavirus. 

Australia said today it is considering a similar citizenship offer, while Taiwan has opened an office to help Hong Kongers take refuge there.  

Boris Johnson (pictured at his House of Commons office yesterday) has warned that the Huawei 5G deal could be scuppered by China’s crackdown in Hong Kong 

Riot police officers pin down a protester during a demonstration in Hong Kong yesterday amid anger at Beijing's new security law which could lead to suspects being tried by Communist Party courts on the mainland

Riot police officers pin down a protester during a demonstration in Hong Kong yesterday amid anger at Beijing’s new security law which could lead to suspects being tried by Communist Party courts on the mainland 

Protesters march in Hong Kong yesterday in a fresh round of demonstrations which saw hundreds arrested, including some people detained under Beijing's new national security law

Protesters march in Hong Kong yesterday in a fresh round of demonstrations which saw hundreds arrested, including some people detained under Beijing’s new national security law 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (pictured) told reporters at a press conference today that ‘all the consequences shall be borne by the UK side’ after Britain drew up plans to offer residency to three million Hong Kongers

Hong Kong police last night arrested a man accused of stabbing a police officer during protests over the new security law (pictured_ - taking him off a Cathay Pacific flight to London moments before it took off

Hong Kong police last night arrested a man accused of stabbing a police officer during protests over the new security law (pictured_ – taking him off a Cathay Pacific flight to London moments before it took off 

Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Hong Kongers look to take up Britain’s offer

‘Hundreds of thousands of people’ from Hong Kong might come to the UK after the Government offered an escape route to around three million people in the city, says a former British consulate worker who alleged he was tortured in China.

Simon Cheng is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office after he was allegedly shackled and beaten in secret detention in the Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Mr Cheng, a British overseas national, announced Wednesday night that his immigration application had been approved last Friday by the British government.

The pro-democracy activist, 29, today said that ‘hundreds of thousands of people’ from Hong Kong might follow his footsteps and choose to come to the UK.

The former consulate worker was detained in China for over two weeks last August after Beijing accused the former consulate worker of inciting unrest amid mass anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Simon Cheng (pictured) is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office in relation to China’s crackdown on the Hong Kong anti-government movement after he was allegedly shackled, beaten, forced to stand for long hours in secret detention in China

Simon Cheng (pictured) is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office in relation to China’s crackdown on the Hong Kong anti-government movement after he was allegedly shackled, beaten, forced to stand for long hours in secret detention in China

Eunice Wong, a Hong Kong student who has just finished her Master’s degree in the UK, said she would be taking advantage of the offer.

‘It’s the only option. I don’t think I can go back home now. I will be persecuted,’ she told The Times. 

In a separate interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Ms Wong said she would not be able to go home again after talking to foreign media.

Thousands of Hong Kong citizens have already expressed their desire to move to Britain on social media platforms.

A Facebook group named the ‘Official Group for BNO Equality Movement’ has seen nearly 3,000 new members in the past month.

Numerous Hong Kong websites have published articles explaining the process of applying for the new BNO rights, including one titled ‘Things you must know before immigration’.

The PM is under pressure on Huawei from all sides, with Tory backbenchers repeatedly bringing up the issue in yesterday’s Commons debate on Hong Kong. 

Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, also raised concerns about China’s influence on the UK university sector – citing claims that ‘Chinese students have already been influenced to silence debate and change outcomes here in the UK’. 

Labour has also called for Britain to ‘develop home grown alternatives’ to Chinese technology and make ‘a proper assessment of the national security implications’ before green-lighting the Huawei deal.  

Mr Raab told MPs that Huawei’s role was currently ‘under review’ by the National Cyber Security Centre, with ministers no longer sticking by the January deal to let Huawei into 35 per cent of the network and none of its ‘core’ elements. 

Unveiling the offer to Hong Kongers, Mr Raab said the ‘bespoke’ new arrangement to be implemented in the coming months would grant BNOs five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK with the ability to live and work.

They would then be eligible to apply for settled status and would be able to apply for citizenship after 12 months with that status. 

At the moment, BNOs can travel on a British passport and receive UK diplomatic help but do not have the automatic right to live or work in Britain. 

The status had to be acquired before 1997 and can no longer be applied for, although ‘dependents’ of BNO holders will be eligible under the scheme. 

As of February, there were nearly 350,000 BNO passport holders, while the Government estimates there are around 2.9million BNOs living in Hong Kong. 

‘This is a special, bespoke set of arrangements developed for the unique circumstances we face and in the light of our historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong,’ Mr Raab said.  

However, the Foreign Secretary later said ‘only a proportion’ would be likely to take up the new status.

He also said that if Beijing tried to stop people with British National (Overseas) status from leaving Hong Kong, there would be little that could be done by the UK.

Mr Raab told ITV’s Peston programme: ‘There is diplomatic leverage, there are other ways that we can persuade China not to fully implement either the national security law or some of the reprisals you talk about.

‘But ultimately we need to be honest that we wouldn’t be able to force China to allow BNOs to come to the UK.’

The Chinese embassy in London insists that ‘all Chinese compatriots residing in Hong Kong are Chinese nationals’. 

‘If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law and basic norms governing international relations,’ it said in a statement. 

‘We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures,’ it said without elaborating.  

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong

How UK and China have clashed over 5G, Covid-19 and human rights 

In October 2015, then-PM David Cameron told Chinese state TV that Britain and China were entering ‘something of a golden era in our relationship’ – but those ties have since been thrown off course by a series of disputes. 

HUAWEI AND 5G 

Beijing has been angered by Western fears that Chinese tech giant Huawei could be used as a front for Communist Party espionage. 

Huawei has long been lobbying to help build Britain’s 5G mobile network, but some politicians fear that Beijing could commandeer the technology to tap into communications.    

China has previously accused UK ministers of showing ‘deep-rooted pride and prejudice’ by raising fears about Huawei’s involvement. Huawei denies any spying link. 

In January 2020, Huawei was granted a limited role in the 5G network after the government said it could manage the risks and would keep Huawei out of the ‘core’ of the network, limiting its role to 35 per cent. 

But US pressure has prompted a rethink in recent weeks. Ministers admitted this week that US sanctions are ‘likely to have an impact on the viability of Huawei as a provider’.  

Britain is now studying ways it can cut Huawei out of its system entirely and build up an alliance of European and Asian providers that reduces China’s dominance in the field. 

CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

UK ministers have said that China faces a ‘reckoning’ over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, which started in Wuhan late last year and has killed more than 40,000 people in Britain. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in May that China has questions to answer about how the disease was allowed to spiral out of control, amid claims that China covered up the outbreak in its earliest days. 

Britain was among the countries to back Australia’s calls for a WHO investigation into the pandemic. China has responded to Australia’s pressure with a series of retaliatory measures.  

China’s state-run Global Times stoked further tension in May by saying the UK’s response to Covid-19 was ‘flippant and ill-prepared’ and saying the UK needed a ‘miracle’ to escape the ‘mess’ it was in. 

HUMAN RIGHTS 

Britain voiced concern about the crackdown in Hong Kong during last year’s protests, saying that mass arrests and the use of live ammunition risked ‘inflaming tensions’. 

In addition, Britain was one of 23 countries to voice alarm about Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang, where ethnic minority Uighurs have allegedly been detained in ‘re-education camps’.  

A joint statement signed by Britain said there were ‘credible reports of mass detention; efforts to restrict cultural and religious practices; mass surveillance disproportionately targeting ethnic Uighurs; and other human rights violations and abuses’. 

Britain also urged China to give ‘meaningful access’ to UN investigators to assess the situation in Xinjiang.  

INFLUENCE ON BRITAIN’S ELITE    

A London club packed with political and business elites was caught in a row last month after a book claimed it was being used by China to ‘groom’ Britain’s elites. 

The pro-China 48 Group Club, which lists Lord Heseltine among its patrons, is taking legal action over the book which suggested that China sees the club as a channel for its lobbying efforts. 

The club denied being a ‘vehicle for Beijing’ and said it was an ‘independent body’ promoting ‘positive Sino-British relations’, The Times reported.  

Experts have previously warned about Chinese tactics of ‘elite capture’ by appointing prominent foreigners as well-paid advisers and making them ‘more amenable to Communist Party aims’.    

Separately, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned at a daily briefing today that Britain would bear all consequences for any actions it took over Hong Kong. 

‘All Chinese compatriots in Hong Kong, including those holding the British National (Overseas) passports, are Chinese citizens,’ Zhao said. 

‘Before Hong Kong returned, the UK side had clearly promised not to provide the right of abode in Britain for holders of the BNO travel documents. The UK side has ignored the Chinese side’s solemn position and insisted on changing the policy to provide a route for the relevant individuals to stay in the UK and obtain UK citizenship. 

‘[The UK’s move] has seriously breached its own promises and violates international law and the basic principles of international relations. The Chinese side strongly condemns this and reserves the rights of further reactions. The UK should bear any consequences caused by this.’

Zhao said no amount of pressure from external forces could ‘shake China’s determination and will to safeguard national sovereignty and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability’, also criticising a US move towards sanctions. 

Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-run Global Times, struck a different tone by saying that Britain should either grant citizenship immediately or not at all. 

‘Johnson government should give Hong Kong BNO passport holders UK citizenship, rather than let them go through a long period of uncertainty,’ he said. 

‘No matter what’s China’s official response, Chinese people have no objection to UK opening its arms to Hongkongers who want to leave.’  

Britain regards the new security law as a breach of the 1984 treaty which agreed the terms of the handover – but China regards it as a historical document with no validity today. 

China unveiled the details of the security law on Tuesday night after weeks of uncertainty, pushing one of the world’s most glittering financial hubs on to a more authoritarian path. 

Article 38 of the law even appears to claim jurisdiction over ‘every person on the planet’ for supposed national security crimes committed overseas.   

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a deal known as ‘one country, two systems’ which maintained rights such as free speech and an independent judiciary that are unknown on the mainland. Beijing promised to preserve the city’s way of life until at least 2047- but critics say its special status is now dead.  

Hong Kong police began their new crackdown on dissent yesterday, boasting of their draconian new powers as they rounded up hundreds of pro-democracy activists including a 15-year-old girl waving an independence flag.  

Police used water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to drive protesters back on the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule. Three were injured when a man flying a Hong Kong independence flag rammed his motorbike into a group of officers.  

Ten people were specifically arrested under the new security law, which lines up long prison sentences for crimes of ‘subversion’ and ‘terrorism’ which critics fear could be used to silence dissent. 

Around 370 were arrested on other charges, including unlawful assembly and possessing weapons.   

Police said that one officer was stabbed in the arm by ‘rioters holding sharp objects’. They added that the suspects fled and bystanders offered no help.

Authorities later arrested a 24-year-old man at the city’s airport in the early hours of Thursday on suspicion of attacking and wounding an officer during protests. 

A police spokesman said the arrested man was surnamed Wong but could not confirm if he was leaving Hong Kong or working at the airport.  

Wong had purchased a ticket on Wednesday and boarded the flight with no check-in luggage, the official said. He did not respond to the air crew who called him by name, and was not at his designated seat. Police identified him after conducting a sweep of the plane. 

Local media reported he was arrested after a relative tipped off police about his his travel plans. 

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing's new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing’s new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon

Pictured: Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A woman reacts after she was hit with pepper spray deployed by police as they cleared a street with protesters rallying against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

Pictured: A woman reacts after she was hit with pepper spray deployed by police as they cleared a street with protesters rallying against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

Pictured: A police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Hong Kong citizens graffiti lyrics from the Chinese national anthem 

Hong Kong protesters have sprayed a graffiti quoting lyrics from the Chinese national anthem to urge the city to rise up against Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms.

The writing that read ‘Arise! All those who don’t want to be slaves!’ was spotted Wednesday on the street of Hong Kong.

It was revealed after a picture of the graffiti was shared on Twitter by Luke de Pulford, a local human rights activist. 

Hong Kong protesters have sprayed a graffiti (pictured( quoting lyrics from the Chinese national anthem to urge the city to rise up against Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms

Hong Kong protesters have sprayed a graffiti (pictured( quoting lyrics from the Chinese national anthem to urge the city to rise up against Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms

The quote came from China’s national anthem, ‘March of the Volunteers’ which refers to several volunteer armies that opposed Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in the 1930s.

Composed by playwright Tian Han in 1934, the song was initially adopted as a provisional anthem in 1949 by the Communist government. 

When Tian was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the song was briefly and unofficially replaced by ‘The East is Red’.

It was restored and became the official Chinese national anthem in 1982. 

The song also became the national anthem for Hong Kong and Macau following their handovers to China in 1997 and 1999, respectively.

 

The new law is seen as Beijing’s boldest step yet to bring the semi-autonomous territory under control of the authoritarian mainland. 

Campaigners say the ‘one country, two systems’ formula which was meant to guarantee Hong Kong’s freedoms until 2047 is now dead – but China insists the law is an internal affair targeting only a handful of ‘troublemakers’. 

The law also allows China’s feared security agencies to openly set up shop in Hong Kong for the first time, and could open the door for dissidents to be tried on the mainland. An influential group of barristers says the law will weaken the independent judiciary which is seen as key to Hong Kong’s success as a business hub. 

Brought in following anti-government protests last year, it outlaws any action deemed to be against the national interest of China. 

Anyone shouting slogans or holding flags calling for independence is violating the law, regardless of whether violence is used. Even driving a bus full of protesters could be deemed illegal.

The most serious offenders will be labelled ‘terrorists’, transferred to the mainland and receive a maximum sentence of life in jail.

One example of a terror act, for example, is attacking public transport, something protesters often did last year. But it also includes providing support or assistance for such acts.

‘This would mean many ‘moderate’ or peaceful supporters of the protest movement would be caught under the law if the extreme protesters they assisted were to be arrested as terrorists,’ Hong Kong lawyer Antony Dapiran said. 

Some trials will be held behind closed doors. A new police unit unaccountable to local laws has also been given licence to operate in the territory. Beijing, not Hong Kong, will have power over how the law is interpreted. 

Ahead of the protest, pro-democracy activist Tsang Kin-shing, of the League of Social Democrats, warned there was a ‘large chance of our being arrested’.

He said: ‘The charges will not be light, please judge for yourself.’

A man who gave his name as Seth, 35, said: ‘I’m scared of going to jail but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up.’ 

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai said the law meant Hong Kong was ‘dead’. He added: ‘It’s worse than the worst scenario imagined. Hong Kong is totally subdued, totally under control.’

Mr Lai, 72, who also supported the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989, thinks Beijing will come for him but is unfazed. ‘I cannot worry, because you never know what kind of measures they will take against me,’ he said. 

Pictured: Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Helicopters with China's national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly over the Victoria Harbor during a ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Helicopters with China’s national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly over the Victoria Harbor during a ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Riot police secure an area in front of a burning road block during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Riot police secure an area in front of a burning road block during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A row of riot police officers is seen in front of a water cannon vehicle during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A row of riot police officers is seen in front of a water cannon vehicle during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong's Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as 'Long Hair', march at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as ‘Long Hair’, march at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Protesters chant slogans and gesture during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Protesters chant slogans and gesture during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Demonstrators take part in a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Demonstrators take part in a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A protester (centre R) is detained by police during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 - including nine under China's new national security law - as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city's handover to China

Pictured: A protester (centre R) is detained by police during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 – including nine under China’s new national security law – as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city’s handover to China

Hong Kong barristers warn of threat to independent judiciary 

Hong Kong’s new security law undermines its independent judiciary and could lead to suspects being deported to the mainland, an influential group of barristers has warned.

In a scathing critique, the city’s Bar Association said the new law dismantles the legal firewall between Hong Kong’s independent judiciary – which is seen as crucial to the city’s success as a business hub – and China’s Communist Party-controlled courts.    

The Association said the new national security offences were ‘widely drawn’ and ‘are capable of being applied in a manner that is arbitrary, and that disproportionately interferes with fundamental rights, including the freedom of conscience, expression and assembly’.

‘Lawyers, judges, police and Hong Kong residents were given no opportunity to familiarise themselves with the contents of the new law, including the serious criminal offences it creates, before it came into force,’ it said. 

Barristers said the law makes clear ‘suspects can be removed to face trial in Mainland China’ and points out that the process does not have the usual checks and balances of extradition hearings. 

It noted the law allowed mainland security agents working in Hong Kong to be ‘above the reach of local law’ and said empowering the city’s chief executive to appoint judges to oversee national security cases undermined judicial independence.

In response, China dismissed the statement as ‘unfounded’, claiming officials had held dialogue sessions with Hong Kong residents to hear their opinions on the law.

‘The lawyers’ association’s claim… that the law lacked meaningful consultation is totally unfounded,’ said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. 

Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam strongly endorsed the new law in her speech marking the 23rd anniversary of the handover yesterday.  

‘This decision was necessary and timely to maintain Hong Kong’s stability,’ Lam said following a flag-raising ceremony and the playing of China’s national anthem.

Speaking at the harbour-front venue where the last British governor Chris Patten handed Hong Kong back to Chinese rule, Lam described it as the most important development in the 23 years since then. 

Mr Raab yesterday rebuked HSBC for supporting the new law, saying that the rights of Hong Kong should not be ‘sacrificed on the altar of bankers’ bonuses’. HSBC was originally known as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. 

British banking giants HSBC and Standard Chartered – both with a major presence in Hong Kong and on the mainland – joined other firms in publicly backing the law last month. 

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce described the passing of the law earlier this week as ‘instrumental in helping to restore stability and certainty to Hong Kong, which has been severely impacted by the social unrest since last year’.

‘We need a stable environment which the (security law) aims to provide.’ 

Analysts and members of the business community have said the law could add to the risk and complexity of doing business in Hong Kong, but is unlikely to spark an exodus of foreign firms because the city is still seen as the gateway to the Chinese economy. 

The city’s Bar Association, an influential group of barristers, said the new law dismantles the legal firewall between Hong Kong’s independent judiciary – which is seen as crucial to the city’s success as a business hub – and China’s Communist Party-controlled courts.    

Hong Kong restaurant is raided by police for displaying pro-democracy posters 

A noodle restaurant in Hong Kong has been forced to shut down after police raided the eatery for displaying pro-democracy slogans, pamphlets and figurines.

The owner of ‘Bowl and Plate’, Gordon Lam, announced the store closure today on Facebook after being warned by the authorities that the restaurant’s decorations might breach the new national security law.

The post was accompanied by pictures of Mr Lam tearing down the slogans that were put up six months ago to show support of the ongoing anti-government protests in the city.

A noodle restaurant in Hong Kong has been forced to shut down after police raided the eatery for displaying pro-democracy slogans, pamphlets and figurines. The picture shows the owner, Gordon Lam, taking down the posters following police raid

A noodle restaurant in Hong Kong has been forced to shut down after police raided the eatery for displaying pro-democracy slogans, pamphlets and figurines. The picture shows the owner, Gordon Lam, taking down the posters following police raid

The store closure was announced today by the owner after being warned by the authorities that the restaurant’s decorations might breach the new national security law

The store closure was announced today by the owner after being warned by the authorities that the restaurant’s decorations might breach the new national security law

Another image previously uploaded on the noodle bar’s Instagram shows the restaurant’s walls being filled with posters with slogans backing the pro-democracy protesters and supporting Hong Kong’s independence.

Many customers have left supportive comments under Mr Lam’s post. One commenter wrote: ‘They can’t tear them down. They are in our hearts.’

Another one read: ‘The most important thing is that you’re safe. We will help you once the business is reopened. One bowl…I’ll eat a few more bowls!’

The Association said the new national security offences were ‘widely drawn’ and ‘are capable of being applied in a manner that is arbitrary, and that disproportionately interferes with fundamental rights, including the freedom of conscience, expression and assembly’.

‘Lawyers, judges, police and Hong Kong residents were given no opportunity to familiarise themselves with the contents of the new law, including the serious criminal offences it creates, before it came into force,’ it said. 

China’s move has provoked a backlash around the world. The US House of Representatives last night agreed unanimously to seek tough sanctions on Chinese officials and Hong Kong police. 

On Thursday, Australian leader Scott Morrison said he was ‘very actively’ considering offering Hong Kongers safe haven. 

Taiwan has opened an office to help Hong Kongers wanting to flee, while a proposed bill in the United States offering sanctuary to city residents has received widespread bipartisan support.

China routinely dismisses all such criticism as interference in its domestic affairs. One of the crimes in the Hong Kong security law explicitly outlaws receiving funding or support from overseas to disrupt lawmaking in Hong Kong or impose sanctions on the city.  

Amnesty International said the new law was a ‘far-reaching threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms’. 

Its Asia-Pacific regional director, Nicholas Bequelin, added: ‘With its vague language and provisions for secret trials, hand-picked judges and mainland security agencies operating freely in the city, the law is wide open to politically motivated, capricious and arbitrary interpretation by the authorities.

‘Hong Kongers are facing an assault by the Beijing authorities and the Hong Kong government on freedoms that they have long enjoyed.’

One major cause of alarm is Article 38 of the law which purports to claim jurisdiction over national security offences committed overseas, even by foreigners.   

‘If you’ve ever said anything that might offend [China] or Hong Kong authorities, stay out of Hong Kong,’ Donald Clarke, an expert on Chinese law at George Washington University, wrote in an analysis. 

‘I know of no reason not to think it means what it appears to say: it is asserting extraterritorial jurisdiction over every person on the planet,’ Clarke wrote. 

The UK updated its travel advice on Hong Kong, saying there is an ‘increased risk of detention and deportation’. It advised Britons to ‘avoid protests and demonstrations.’ Political leaders across the spectrum have condemned China’s crackdown, which came quicker than anyone expected.

But Rod Wye, of the Chatham House think-tank, said Beijing will not care as it takes advantage of global instability and rifts opening up between Western powers.

‘The USA and EU are moving in different directions in many areas. It is perhaps to China’s advantage that that should be so,’ he said.’Expressions of concern are certainly not going to change the Chinese intention one little bit.’ 

Pictured: Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region addresses a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region addresses a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A person is detained by riot police officers during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A person is detained by riot police officers during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

IAN BIRRELL: The hideous crushing of Hong Kong’s freedom is a victory for despots over democracy 

The first arrest was a man clutching a black flag inscribed with the words ‘Hong Kong Independence’ in both English and Chinese.

By the time dusk fell over the skyscrapers and ferries of one of the world’s great cities, another nine protesters —including a 15-year-old girl and a woman with a sign featuring the British flag — had been seized under a harsh new security law.

Created in secrecy by Communist Party chiefs in Beijing, this draconian measure is designed to throttle the freedoms that made Hong Kong such a special place. Its sudden imposition marked a dark day for democracy with big global consequences.

Those protesters now risk life imprisonment. They can be carted off into China’s sinister network of compliant courts and brutal jails as President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on the former British colony.

Yet still, thousands joined the territory’s annual rally to mark the anniversary of its handover to China in 1997 with hundreds of pro-democracy protesters seized by the increasingly thuggish police force.

Crowds chanted slogans such as ‘resist till the end’, despite fusillades of pepper spray and pellets. One man admitted he was scared of going to jail, ‘but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up’.

Such bravery is impressive, as I saw for myself last year, spending three weeks with these protesters amid the tear gas and baton charges as citizens raised in comparative freedom fought the repression of Communist China.

Pictured: China's President Xi Jinping voting on a proposal to draft a security law on Hong Kong during the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28 2020. China passed the sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, 2020

Pictured: China’s President Xi Jinping voting on a proposal to draft a security law on Hong Kong during the closing session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28 2020. China passed the sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, 2020

Futility

At a time when the West is so disturbingly complacent over its own democracies, it was inspiring to meet protesters prepared to risk everything to protect liberties that we take for granted.

Most were young, affable and highly-educated. They admitted to their fears and the probable futility of taking on the might of the Chinese state with umbrellas and wok lids (to place over rounds of tear gas). ‘What alternative do we have?’ asked one.

Yet it was also sad talking to such youthful idealists given the near-certain trajectory of their struggle. ‘I will keep fighting because this is our home and we must protect our freedoms at all costs,’ said one 18-year-old student, admitting she was terrified.

When I asked another young woman why she took such risks, she told me of visiting a Chinese city and being fined for jay-walking, the money taken from her online bank account by the time she had crossed the street thanks to all the facial recognition cameras. ‘Who wants to live in such a society?’ she asked rightly.

These people sought to avoid being sucked into a state relying on repression and technology to control one fifth of the world’s population. Now they fear for their future trapped in the straitjacket of China’s Orwellian society.

The chilling new security law was drafted in secret with even Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s dismal and subservient leader, kept in the dark — then imposed on Tuesday.

Yesterday, people were deleting social media accounts, fearing that family members who had voiced criticism would not be allowed back to visit them, and wondering if they might, one day, be carted off to a Chinese cell under the deliberately vague legislation.

‘We have to be very careful what we say since you have no idea what is a criminal offence now,’ one activist told me. ‘We all know the consequences if we are taken to China and forced to confess.’

The new law is designed to end the protests that exploded early last year, convulsing the territory. It has four core offences — separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries — that allow authorities to target dissidents at will.

Dystopian

The measure unleashes Chinese security agencies to operate openly for the first time, permits courts to hear cases in secret and even applies to foreign nationals, provoking fears that critics could be prosecuted when entering the territory.

This moment marks the death of the ‘one country, two systems deal’, which was agreed with Britain under the 1984 handover pact and supposed to have been kept for 50 years after Hong Kong was returned to China.

Clearly it shows that Beijing under Xi Jinping, its aggressive nationalist president, cannot be trusted. Boris Johnson deserves credit for his firm response in offering three million residents the chance to settle in this country.

These events underline our naivety in dealing with China, especially since Xi won power in 2013. Beijing had, after all, made its intentions clear six years ago with a white paper insisting it had ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’ over Hong Kong.

Yet first we thought trade would corrode Communist autocracy, then we hoped the internet could destroy dictatorship. David Cameron tried to chum up to Xi with boasts of a ‘golden era’ and toe-curling talk of helping ‘deliver the Chinese dream’.

Pictured: Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference on the new national security law in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020

Pictured: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference on the new national security law in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020

But as those Hong Kong protesters know all too well — and despite China’s amazing economic rise — China’s president is delivering a dystopian nightmare to his 1.3 billion citizens while rapidly building up military strength and flexing his growing power.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Beijing has allowed a forced abortion and sterilisation programme on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, who have already been subjected to 24-hour surveillance with many thrown into concentration camps.

One survivor of these awful places intended to crush traditional cultures told me of enforced medical treatments and horrific torture ranging from beatings and mass rape to medieval-style devices such as a nail-studded chair.

China has embraced the digital age yet found ways to ruthlessly control citizens with technology.

It is even creating a ‘social credit’ system to thwart ‘negative’ attitudes, which bars those failing to stick to its strict diktats from the best jobs, schools and rail services.

Hong Kong is, unfortunately, probably beyond salvation. But we must be aware of the implications as the world slides into a new Cold War tussle between autocracy and freedom.

For Xi, the ultimate prize is Taiwan — an island beacon of democracy just off China’s coast, once the refuge for forces defeated by Mao’s Communists, which he seeks to ‘reunify’ with its ‘motherland’.

Beijing hoped support for ‘peaceful unification’ would grow in Taiwan as the two nations grew close economically.

Now the crackdown in Hong Kong has showed the hollowness of its promises — so support for China has unsurprisingly crashed.

Slaughter

This hideous crushing of Hong Kong, regardless of the consequences for one of the world’s financial centres, shows China’s Leninist leadership has abandoned any hope of seducing Taiwan with sweet talk of freedom.

Meanwhile, China has shown it will brazenly use coral atolls in the South China Sea to expand its terrain and slaughter Indian solders on a disputed Himalayan mountainside.

So how will the West respond if China tries to attack or blockade its ally Taiwan?

As one protester in Hong Kong said to me, this is a long battle between democracy and despotism. ‘Who knows how it will end?’ he asked.



Boris Johnson says China’s Hong Kong crackdown could scupper Huawei deal


China’s ‘unacceptable’ crackdown in Hong Kong could shut the door to Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5G mobile network, Boris Johnson has said as London and Beijing traded blows today. 

Mr Johnson said the draconian new security law that China has imposed on Hong Kong was ‘plainly an unacceptable breach’ of the freedoms that the city was guaranteed after Britain handed it back in 1997. 

Linking the crisis to the Huawei deal, the PM told the Evening Standard that ‘I don’t want to see our critical national infrastructure at risk of being in any way controlled by potentially hostile state vendors… so we have to think very carefully about how to proceed now.’ 

Q&A on Hong Kong’s British Nationals Overseas (BNOs)

What is a British National (overseas)?

Hong Kongers could register for this special status before the 1997 handover. They get a UK passport but no automatic right to live and work in the UK. You cannot apply to become a BNO.

How many of them are there?

As of February, there were 349,881 BNO passport holders. The Government estimates that there are around 2.9million BNOs currently in Hong Kong.

What is Britain offering them?

A path to citizenship. BNOs will get five years ‘limited leave to remain’. They can then apply for ‘settled status’. After 12 months with settled status, they can apply for citizenship. Their close family will also be eligible. 

Mr Johnson has been under massive pressure to change course on Huawei after agreeing in January to give the Chinese tech giant a ‘limited’ role in the 5G network, despite fears that Beijing would use it for espionage. 

Since then, the coronavirus pandemic and the crisis in Hong Kong have thrown Britain’s relations with China into crisis – with Beijing now threatening to punish the UK for offering refuge to Hong Kongers.  

Hundreds were arrested in a crackdown on Hong Kong protesters yesterday just hours after the new law came into force, bringing in long prison sentences for dissent and trials run by the mainland Communist Party. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday unveiled plans to offer residency and a possible route to citizenship to British Nationals (Overseas), a group of nearly three million people with links to Hong Kong. 

But Beijing regards them as Chinese nationals and its embassy in London warned today that ‘we firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures’.     

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a press conference today that ‘the UK should bear any consequences caused by this… Hong Kong matters are China’s domestic affairs, and no countries have any right to intervene.’  

Mr Raab admitted last night that there would be little the UK could do if China tried to stop Hong Kongers from leaving.    

China did not say how it might retaliate, but it has recently hit Australia with a series of tariffs, export bans and warnings against travelling and studying in the country after it led global calls for an inquiry into coronavirus. 

Australia said today it is considering a similar citizenship offer, while Taiwan has opened an office to help Hong Kongers take refuge there.  

Boris Johnson (pictured at his House of Commons office yesterday) has warned that the Huawei 5G deal could be scuppered by China’s crackdown in Hong Kong 

Riot police officers pin down a protester during a demonstration in Hong Kong yesterday amid anger at Beijing's new security law which could lead to suspects being tried by Communist Party courts on the mainland

Riot police officers pin down a protester during a demonstration in Hong Kong yesterday amid anger at Beijing’s new security law which could lead to suspects being tried by Communist Party courts on the mainland 

Protesters march in Hong Kong yesterday in a fresh round of demonstrations which saw hundreds arrested, including some people detained under Beijing's new national security law

Protesters march in Hong Kong yesterday in a fresh round of demonstrations which saw hundreds arrested, including some people detained under Beijing’s new national security law 

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (pictured) told reporters at a press conference today that ‘all the consequences shall be borne by the UK side’ after Britain drew up plans to offer residency to three million Hong Kongers

Hong Kong police last night arrested a man accused of stabbing a police officer during protests over the new security law (pictured_ - taking him off a Cathay Pacific flight to London moments before it took off

Hong Kong police last night arrested a man accused of stabbing a police officer during protests over the new security law (pictured_ – taking him off a Cathay Pacific flight to London moments before it took off 

Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Hong Kongers look to take up Britain’s offer

‘Hundreds of thousands of people’ from Hong Kong might come to the UK after the Government offered an escape route to around three million people in the city, says a former British consulate worker who alleged he was tortured in China.

Simon Cheng is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office after he was allegedly shackled and beaten in secret detention in the Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Mr Cheng, a British overseas national, announced Wednesday night that his immigration application had been approved last Friday by the British government.

The pro-democracy activist, 29, today said that ‘hundreds of thousands of people’ from Hong Kong might follow his footsteps and choose to come to the UK.

The former consulate worker was detained in China for over two weeks last August after Beijing accused the former consulate worker of inciting unrest amid mass anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Simon Cheng (pictured) is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office in relation to China’s crackdown on the Hong Kong anti-government movement after he was allegedly shackled, beaten, forced to stand for long hours in secret detention in China

Simon Cheng (pictured) is the first person to have been granted political asylum by the Home Office in relation to China’s crackdown on the Hong Kong anti-government movement after he was allegedly shackled, beaten, forced to stand for long hours in secret detention in China

Eunice Wong, a Hong Kong student who has just finished her Master’s degree in the UK, said she would be taking advantage of the offer.

‘It’s the only option. I don’t think I can go back home now. I will be persecuted,’ she told The Times. 

In a separate interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Ms Wong said she would not be able to go home again after talking to foreign media.

Thousands of Hong Kong citizens have already expressed their desire to move to Britain on social media platforms.

A Facebook group named the ‘Official Group for BNO Equality Movement’ has seen nearly 3,000 new members in the past month.

Numerous Hong Kong websites have published articles explaining the process of applying for the new BNO rights, including one titled ‘Things you must know before immigration’.

The PM is under pressure on Huawei from all sides, with Tory backbenchers repeatedly bringing up the issue in yesterday’s Commons debate on Hong Kong. 

Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, also raised concerns about China’s influence on the UK university sector – citing claims that ‘Chinese students have already been influenced to silence debate and change outcomes here in the UK’. 

Labour has also called for Britain to ‘develop home grown alternatives’ to Chinese technology and make ‘a proper assessment of the national security implications’ before green-lighting the Huawei deal.  

Mr Raab told MPs that Huawei’s role was currently ‘under review’ by the National Cyber Security Centre, with ministers no longer sticking by the January deal to let Huawei into 35 per cent of the network and none of its ‘core’ elements. 

Unveiling the offer to Hong Kongers, Mr Raab said the ‘bespoke’ new arrangement to be implemented in the coming months would grant BNOs five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK with the ability to live and work.

They would then be eligible to apply for settled status and would be able to apply for citizenship after 12 months with that status. 

At the moment, BNOs can travel on a British passport and receive UK diplomatic help but do not have the automatic right to live or work in Britain. 

The status had to be acquired before 1997 and can no longer be applied for, although ‘dependents’ of BNO holders will be eligible under the scheme. 

As of February, there were nearly 350,000 BNO passport holders, while the Government estimates there are around 2.9million BNOs living in Hong Kong. 

‘This is a special, bespoke set of arrangements developed for the unique circumstances we face and in the light of our historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong,’ Mr Raab said.  

However, the Foreign Secretary later said ‘only a proportion’ would be likely to take up the new status.

He also said that if Beijing tried to stop people with British National (Overseas) status from leaving Hong Kong, there would be little that could be done by the UK.

Mr Raab told ITV’s Peston programme: ‘There is diplomatic leverage, there are other ways that we can persuade China not to fully implement either the national security law or some of the reprisals you talk about.

‘But ultimately we need to be honest that we wouldn’t be able to force China to allow BNOs to come to the UK.’

The Chinese embassy in London insists that ‘all Chinese compatriots residing in Hong Kong are Chinese nationals’. 

‘If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law and basic norms governing international relations,’ it said in a statement. 

‘We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures,’ it said without elaborating.  

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong

How UK and China have clashed over 5G, Covid-19 and human rights 

In October 2015, then-PM David Cameron told Chinese state TV that Britain and China were entering ‘something of a golden era in our relationship’ – but those ties have since been thrown off course by a series of disputes. 

HUAWEI AND 5G 

Beijing has been angered by Western fears that Chinese tech giant Huawei could be used as a front for Communist Party espionage. 

Huawei has long been lobbying to help build Britain’s 5G mobile network, but some politicians fear that Beijing could commandeer the technology to tap into communications.    

China has previously accused UK ministers of showing ‘deep-rooted pride and prejudice’ by raising fears about Huawei’s involvement. Huawei denies any spying link. 

In January 2020, Huawei was granted a limited role in the 5G network after the government said it could manage the risks and would keep Huawei out of the ‘core’ of the network, limiting its role to 35 per cent. 

But US pressure has prompted a rethink in recent weeks. Ministers admitted this week that US sanctions are ‘likely to have an impact on the viability of Huawei as a provider’.  

Britain is now studying ways it can cut Huawei out of its system entirely and build up an alliance of European and Asian providers that reduces China’s dominance in the field. 

CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

UK ministers have said that China faces a ‘reckoning’ over its handling of the coronavirus crisis, which started in Wuhan late last year and has killed more than 40,000 people in Britain. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in May that China has questions to answer about how the disease was allowed to spiral out of control, amid claims that China covered up the outbreak in its earliest days. 

Britain was among the countries to back Australia’s calls for a WHO investigation into the pandemic. China has responded to Australia’s pressure with a series of retaliatory measures.  

China’s state-run Global Times stoked further tension in May by saying the UK’s response to Covid-19 was ‘flippant and ill-prepared’ and saying the UK needed a ‘miracle’ to escape the ‘mess’ it was in. 

HUMAN RIGHTS 

Britain voiced concern about the crackdown in Hong Kong during last year’s protests, saying that mass arrests and the use of live ammunition risked ‘inflaming tensions’. 

In addition, Britain was one of 23 countries to voice alarm about Chinese human rights abuses in Xinjiang, where ethnic minority Uighurs have allegedly been detained in ‘re-education camps’.  

A joint statement signed by Britain said there were ‘credible reports of mass detention; efforts to restrict cultural and religious practices; mass surveillance disproportionately targeting ethnic Uighurs; and other human rights violations and abuses’. 

Britain also urged China to give ‘meaningful access’ to UN investigators to assess the situation in Xinjiang.  

INFLUENCE ON BRITAIN’S ELITE    

A London club packed with political and business elites was caught in a row last month after a book claimed it was being used by China to ‘groom’ Britain’s elites. 

The pro-China 48 Group Club, which lists Lord Heseltine among its patrons, is taking legal action over the book which suggested that China sees the club as a channel for its lobbying efforts. 

The club denied being a ‘vehicle for Beijing’ and said it was an ‘independent body’ promoting ‘positive Sino-British relations’, The Times reported.  

Experts have previously warned about Chinese tactics of ‘elite capture’ by appointing prominent foreigners as well-paid advisers and making them ‘more amenable to Communist Party aims’.    

Separately, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian warned at a daily briefing today that Britain would bear all consequences for any actions it took over Hong Kong. 

‘All Chinese compatriots in Hong Kong, including those holding the British National (Overseas) passports, are Chinese citizens,’ Zhao said. 

‘Before Hong Kong returned, the UK side had clearly promised not to provide the right of abode in Britain for holders of the BNO travel documents. The UK side has ignored the Chinese side’s solemn position and insisted on changing the policy to provide a route for the relevant individuals to stay in the UK and obtain UK citizenship. 

‘[The UK’s move] has seriously breached its own promises and violates international law and the basic principles of international relations. The Chinese side strongly condemns this and reserves the rights of further reactions. The UK should bear any consequences caused by this.’

Zhao said no amount of pressure from external forces could ‘shake China’s determination and will to safeguard national sovereignty and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability’, also criticising a US move towards sanctions. 

Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-run Global Times, struck a different tone by saying that Britain should either grant citizenship immediately or not at all. 

‘Johnson government should give Hong Kong BNO passport holders UK citizenship, rather than let them go through a long period of uncertainty,’ he said. 

‘No matter what’s China’s official response, Chinese people have no objection to UK opening its arms to Hongkongers who want to leave.’  

Britain regards the new security law as a breach of the 1984 treaty which agreed the terms of the handover – but China regards it as a historical document with no validity today. 

China unveiled the details of the security law on Tuesday night after weeks of uncertainty, pushing one of the world’s most glittering financial hubs on to a more authoritarian path. 

Article 38 of the law even appears to claim jurisdiction over ‘every person on the planet’ for supposed national security crimes committed overseas.   

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a deal known as ‘one country, two systems’ which maintained rights such as free speech and an independent judiciary that are unknown on the mainland. Beijing promised to preserve the city’s way of life until at least 2047- but critics say its special status is now dead.  

Hong Kong police began their new crackdown on dissent yesterday, boasting of their draconian new powers as they rounded up hundreds of pro-democracy activists including a 15-year-old girl waving an independence flag.  

Police used water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to drive protesters back on the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule. Three were injured when a man flying a Hong Kong independence flag rammed his motorbike into a group of officers.  

Ten people were specifically arrested under the new security law, which lines up long prison sentences for crimes of ‘subversion’ and ‘terrorism’ which critics fear could be used to silence dissent. 

Around 370 were arrested on other charges, including unlawful assembly and possessing weapons.   

Police said that one officer was stabbed in the arm by ‘rioters holding sharp objects’. They added that the suspects fled and bystanders offered no help.

Authorities later arrested a 24-year-old man at the city’s airport in the early hours of Thursday on suspicion of attacking and wounding an officer during protests. 

A police spokesman said the arrested man was surnamed Wong but could not confirm if he was leaving Hong Kong or working at the airport.  

Wong had purchased a ticket on Wednesday and boarded the flight with no check-in luggage, the official said. He did not respond to the air crew who called him by name, and was not at his designated seat. Police identified him after conducting a sweep of the plane. 

Local media reported he was arrested after a relative tipped off police about his his travel plans. 

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing's new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing’s new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon

Pictured: Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A woman reacts after she was hit with pepper spray deployed by police as they cleared a street with protesters rallying against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

Pictured: A woman reacts after she was hit with pepper spray deployed by police as they cleared a street with protesters rallying against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

Pictured: A police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Hong Kong citizens graffiti lyrics from the Chinese national anthem 

Hong Kong protesters have sprayed a graffiti quoting lyrics from the Chinese national anthem to urge the city to rise up against Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms.

The writing that read ‘Arise! All those who don’t want to be slaves!’ was spotted Wednesday on the street of Hong Kong.

It was revealed after a picture of the graffiti was shared on Twitter by Luke de Pulford, a local human rights activist. 

Hong Kong protesters have sprayed a graffiti (pictured( quoting lyrics from the Chinese national anthem to urge the city to rise up against Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms

Hong Kong protesters have sprayed a graffiti (pictured( quoting lyrics from the Chinese national anthem to urge the city to rise up against Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms

The quote came from China’s national anthem, ‘March of the Volunteers’ which refers to several volunteer armies that opposed Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in the 1930s.

Composed by playwright Tian Han in 1934, the song was initially adopted as a provisional anthem in 1949 by the Communist government. 

When Tian was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the song was briefly and unofficially replaced by ‘The East is Red’.

It was restored and became the official Chinese national anthem in 1982. 

The song also became the national anthem for Hong Kong and Macau following their handovers to China in 1997 and 1999, respectively.

 

The new law is seen as Beijing’s boldest step yet to bring the semi-autonomous territory under control of the authoritarian mainland. 

Campaigners say the ‘one country, two systems’ formula which was meant to guarantee Hong Kong’s freedoms until 2047 is now dead – but China insists the law is an internal affair targeting only a handful of ‘troublemakers’. 

The law also allows China’s feared security agencies to openly set up shop in Hong Kong for the first time, and could open the door for dissidents to be tried on the mainland. An influential group of barristers says the law will weaken the independent judiciary which is seen as key to Hong Kong’s success as a business hub. 

Brought in following anti-government protests last year, it outlaws any action deemed to be against the national interest of China. 

Anyone shouting slogans or holding flags calling for independence is violating the law, regardless of whether violence is used. Even driving a bus full of protesters could be deemed illegal.

The most serious offenders will be labelled ‘terrorists’, transferred to the mainland and receive a maximum sentence of life in jail.

One example of a terror act, for example, is attacking public transport, something protesters often did last year. But it also includes providing support or assistance for such acts.

‘This would mean many ‘moderate’ or peaceful supporters of the protest movement would be caught under the law if the extreme protesters they assisted were to be arrested as terrorists,’ Hong Kong lawyer Antony Dapiran said. 

Some trials will be held behind closed doors. A new police unit unaccountable to local laws has also been given licence to operate in the territory. Beijing, not Hong Kong, will have power over how the law is interpreted. 

Ahead of the protest, pro-democracy activist Tsang Kin-shing, of the League of Social Democrats, warned there was a ‘large chance of our being arrested’.

He said: ‘The charges will not be light, please judge for yourself.’

A man who gave his name as Seth, 35, said: ‘I’m scared of going to jail but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up.’ 

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai said the law meant Hong Kong was ‘dead’. He added: ‘It’s worse than the worst scenario imagined. Hong Kong is totally subdued, totally under control.’

Mr Lai, 72, who also supported the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989, thinks Beijing will come for him but is unfazed. ‘I cannot worry, because you never know what kind of measures they will take against me,’ he said. 

Pictured: Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Helicopters with China's national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly over the Victoria Harbor during a ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Helicopters with China’s national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly over the Victoria Harbor during a ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Riot police secure an area in front of a burning road block during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Riot police secure an area in front of a burning road block during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A row of riot police officers is seen in front of a water cannon vehicle during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A row of riot police officers is seen in front of a water cannon vehicle during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong's Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as 'Long Hair', march at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as ‘Long Hair’, march at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Protesters chant slogans and gesture during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Protesters chant slogans and gesture during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Demonstrators take part in a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Demonstrators take part in a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A protester (centre R) is detained by police during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 - including nine under China's new national security law - as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city's handover to China

Pictured: A protester (centre R) is detained by police during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 – including nine under China’s new national security law – as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city’s handover to China

Hong Kong barristers warn of threat to independent judiciary 

Hong Kong’s new security law undermines its independent judiciary and could lead to suspects being deported to the mainland, an influential group of barristers has warned.

In a scathing critique, the city’s Bar Association said the new law dismantles the legal firewall between Hong Kong’s independent judiciary – which is seen as crucial to the city’s success as a business hub – and China’s Communist Party-controlled courts.    

The Association said the new national security offences were ‘widely drawn’ and ‘are capable of being applied in a manner that is arbitrary, and that disproportionately interferes with fundamental rights, including the freedom of conscience, expression and assembly’.

‘Lawyers, judges, police and Hong Kong residents were given no opportunity to familiarise themselves with the contents of the new law, including the serious criminal offences it creates, before it came into force,’ it said. 

Barristers said the law makes clear ‘suspects can be removed to face trial in Mainland China’ and points out that the process does not have the usual checks and balances of extradition hearings. 

It noted the law allowed mainland security agents working in Hong Kong to be ‘above the reach of local law’ and said empowering the city’s chief executive to appoint judges to oversee national security cases undermined judicial independence.

In response, China dismissed the statement as ‘unfounded’, claiming officials had held dialogue sessions with Hong Kong residents to hear their opinions on the law.

‘The lawyers’ association’s claim… that the law lacked meaningful consultation is totally unfounded,’ said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. 

Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam strongly endorsed the new law in her speech marking the 23rd anniversary of the handover yesterday.  

‘This decision was necessary and timely to maintain Hong Kong’s stability,’ Lam said following a flag-raising ceremony and the playing of China’s national anthem.

Speaking at the harbour-front venue where the last British governor Chris Patten handed Hong Kong back to Chinese rule, Lam described it as the most important development in the 23 years since then. 

Mr Raab yesterday rebuked HSBC for supporting the new law, saying that the rights of Hong Kong should not be ‘sacrificed on the altar of bankers’ bonuses’. HSBC was originally known as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. 

British banking giants HSBC and Standard Chartered – both with a major presence in Hong Kong and on the mainland – joined other firms in publicly backing the law last month. 

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce described the passing of the law earlier this week as ‘instrumental in helping to restore stability and certainty to Hong Kong, which has been severely impacted by the social unrest since last year’.

‘We need a stable environment which the (security law) aims to provide.’ 

Analysts and members of the business community have said the law could add to the risk and complexity of doing business in Hong Kong, but is unlikely to spark an exodus of foreign firms because the city is still seen as the gateway to the Chinese economy. 

The city’s Bar Association, an influential group of barristers, said the new law dismantles the legal firewall between Hong Kong’s independent judiciary – which is seen as crucial to the city’s success as a business hub – and China’s Communist Party-controlled courts.    

Hong Kong restaurant is raided by police for displaying pro-democracy posters 

A noodle restaurant in Hong Kong has been forced to shut down after police raided the eatery for displaying pro-democracy slogans, pamphlets and figurines.

The owner of ‘Bowl and Plate’, Gordon Lam, announced the store closure today on Facebook after being warned by the authorities that the restaurant’s decorations might breach the new national security law.

The post was accompanied by pictures of Mr Lam tearing down the slogans that were put up six months ago to show support of the ongoing anti-government protests in the city.

A noodle restaurant in Hong Kong has been forced to shut down after police raided the eatery for displaying pro-democracy slogans, pamphlets and figurines. The picture shows the owner, Gordon Lam, taking down the posters following police raid

A noodle restaurant in Hong Kong has been forced to shut down after police raided the eatery for displaying pro-democracy slogans, pamphlets and figurines. The picture shows the owner, Gordon Lam, taking down the posters following police raid

The store closure was announced today by the owner after being warned by the authorities that the restaurant’s decorations might breach the new national security law

The store closure was announced today by the owner after being warned by the authorities that the restaurant’s decorations might breach the new national security law

Another image previously uploaded on the noodle bar’s Instagram shows the restaurant’s walls being filled with posters with slogans backing the pro-democracy protesters and supporting Hong Kong’s independence.

Many customers have left supportive comments under Mr Lam’s post. One commenter wrote: ‘They can’t tear them down. They are in our hearts.’

Another one read: ‘The most important thing is that you’re safe. We will help you once the business is reopened. One bowl…I’ll eat a few more bowls!’

The Association said the new national security offences were ‘widely drawn’ and ‘are capable of being applied in a manner that is arbitrary, and that disproportionately interferes with fundamental rights, including the freedom of conscience, expression and assembly’.

‘Lawyers, judges, police and Hong Kong residents were given no opportunity to familiarise themselves with the contents of the new law, including the serious criminal offences it creates, before it came into force,’ it said. 

China’s move has provoked a backlash around the world. The US House of Representatives last night agreed unanimously to seek tough sanctions on Chinese officials and Hong Kong police. 

On Thursday, Australian leader Scott Morrison said he was ‘very actively’ considering offering Hong Kongers safe haven. 

Taiwan has opened an office to help Hong Kongers wanting to flee, while a proposed bill in the United States offering sanctuary to city residents has received widespread bipartisan support.

China routinely dismisses all such criticism as interference in its domestic affairs. One of the crimes in the Hong Kong security law explicitly outlaws receiving funding or support from overseas to disrupt lawmaking in Hong Kong or impose sanctions on the city.  

Amnesty International said the new law was a ‘far-reaching threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms’. 

Its Asia-Pacific regional director, Nicholas Bequelin, added: ‘With its vague language and provisions for secret trials, hand-picked judges and mainland security agencies operating freely in the city, the law is wide open to politically motivated, capricious and arbitrary interpretation by the authorities.

‘Hong Kongers are facing an assault by the Beijing authorities and the Hong Kong government on freedoms that they have long enjoyed.’

One major cause of alarm is Article 38 of the law which purports to claim jurisdiction over national security offences committed overseas, even by foreigners.   

‘If you’ve ever said anything that might offend [China] or Hong Kong authorities, stay out of Hong Kong,’ Donald Clarke, an expert on Chinese law at George Washington University, wrote in an analysis. 

‘I know of no reason not to think it means what it appears to say: it is asserting extraterritorial jurisdiction over every person on the planet,’ Clarke wrote. 

The UK updated its travel advice on Hong Kong, saying there is an ‘increased risk of detention and deportation’. It advised Britons to ‘avoid protests and demonstrations.’ Political leaders across the spectrum have condemned China’s crackdown, which came quicker than anyone expected.

But Rod Wye, of the Chatham House think-tank, said Beijing will not care as it takes advantage of global instability and rifts opening up between Western powers.

‘The USA and EU are moving in different directions in many areas. It is perhaps to China’s advantage that that should be so,’ he said.’Expressions of concern are certainly not going to change the Chinese intention one little bit.’ 

Pictured: Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region addresses a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region addresses a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A person is detained by riot police officers during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A person is detained by riot police officers during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

IAN BIRRELL: The hideous crushing of Hong Kong’s freedom is a victory for despots over democracy 

The first arrest was a man clutching a black flag inscribed with the words ‘Hong Kong Independence’ in both English and Chinese.

By the time dusk fell over the skyscrapers and ferries of one of the world’s great cities, another nine protesters —including a 15-year-old girl and a woman with a sign featuring the British flag — had been seized under a harsh new security law.

Created in secrecy by Communist Party chiefs in Beijing, this draconian measure is designed to throttle the freedoms that made Hong Kong such a special place. Its sudden imposition marked a dark day for democracy with big global consequences.

Those protesters now risk life imprisonment. They can be carted off into China’s sinister network of compliant courts and brutal jails as President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on the former British colony.

Yet still, thousands joined the territory’s annual rally to mark the anniversary of its handover to China in 1997 with hundreds of pro-democracy protesters seized by the increasingly thuggish police force.

Crowds chanted slogans such as ‘resist till the end’, despite fusillades of pepper spray and pellets. One man admitted he was scared of going to jail, ‘but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up’.

Such bravery is impressive, as I saw for myself last year, spending three weeks with these protesters amid the tear gas and baton charges as citizens raised in comparative freedom fought the repression of Communist China.

Pictured: China's President Xi Jinping voting on a proposal to draft a security law on Hong Kong during the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28 2020. China passed the sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, 2020

Pictured: China’s President Xi Jinping voting on a proposal to draft a security law on Hong Kong during the closing session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28 2020. China passed the sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, 2020

Futility

At a time when the West is so disturbingly complacent over its own democracies, it was inspiring to meet protesters prepared to risk everything to protect liberties that we take for granted.

Most were young, affable and highly-educated. They admitted to their fears and the probable futility of taking on the might of the Chinese state with umbrellas and wok lids (to place over rounds of tear gas). ‘What alternative do we have?’ asked one.

Yet it was also sad talking to such youthful idealists given the near-certain trajectory of their struggle. ‘I will keep fighting because this is our home and we must protect our freedoms at all costs,’ said one 18-year-old student, admitting she was terrified.

When I asked another young woman why she took such risks, she told me of visiting a Chinese city and being fined for jay-walking, the money taken from her online bank account by the time she had crossed the street thanks to all the facial recognition cameras. ‘Who wants to live in such a society?’ she asked rightly.

These people sought to avoid being sucked into a state relying on repression and technology to control one fifth of the world’s population. Now they fear for their future trapped in the straitjacket of China’s Orwellian society.

The chilling new security law was drafted in secret with even Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s dismal and subservient leader, kept in the dark — then imposed on Tuesday.

Yesterday, people were deleting social media accounts, fearing that family members who had voiced criticism would not be allowed back to visit them, and wondering if they might, one day, be carted off to a Chinese cell under the deliberately vague legislation.

‘We have to be very careful what we say since you have no idea what is a criminal offence now,’ one activist told me. ‘We all know the consequences if we are taken to China and forced to confess.’

The new law is designed to end the protests that exploded early last year, convulsing the territory. It has four core offences — separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries — that allow authorities to target dissidents at will.

Dystopian

The measure unleashes Chinese security agencies to operate openly for the first time, permits courts to hear cases in secret and even applies to foreign nationals, provoking fears that critics could be prosecuted when entering the territory.

This moment marks the death of the ‘one country, two systems deal’, which was agreed with Britain under the 1984 handover pact and supposed to have been kept for 50 years after Hong Kong was returned to China.

Clearly it shows that Beijing under Xi Jinping, its aggressive nationalist president, cannot be trusted. Boris Johnson deserves credit for his firm response in offering three million residents the chance to settle in this country.

These events underline our naivety in dealing with China, especially since Xi won power in 2013. Beijing had, after all, made its intentions clear six years ago with a white paper insisting it had ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’ over Hong Kong.

Yet first we thought trade would corrode Communist autocracy, then we hoped the internet could destroy dictatorship. David Cameron tried to chum up to Xi with boasts of a ‘golden era’ and toe-curling talk of helping ‘deliver the Chinese dream’.

Pictured: Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference on the new national security law in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020

Pictured: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference on the new national security law in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020

But as those Hong Kong protesters know all too well — and despite China’s amazing economic rise — China’s president is delivering a dystopian nightmare to his 1.3 billion citizens while rapidly building up military strength and flexing his growing power.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Beijing has allowed a forced abortion and sterilisation programme on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, who have already been subjected to 24-hour surveillance with many thrown into concentration camps.

One survivor of these awful places intended to crush traditional cultures told me of enforced medical treatments and horrific torture ranging from beatings and mass rape to medieval-style devices such as a nail-studded chair.

China has embraced the digital age yet found ways to ruthlessly control citizens with technology.

It is even creating a ‘social credit’ system to thwart ‘negative’ attitudes, which bars those failing to stick to its strict diktats from the best jobs, schools and rail services.

Hong Kong is, unfortunately, probably beyond salvation. But we must be aware of the implications as the world slides into a new Cold War tussle between autocracy and freedom.

For Xi, the ultimate prize is Taiwan — an island beacon of democracy just off China’s coast, once the refuge for forces defeated by Mao’s Communists, which he seeks to ‘reunify’ with its ‘motherland’.

Beijing hoped support for ‘peaceful unification’ would grow in Taiwan as the two nations grew close economically.

Now the crackdown in Hong Kong has showed the hollowness of its promises — so support for China has unsurprisingly crashed.

Slaughter

This hideous crushing of Hong Kong, regardless of the consequences for one of the world’s financial centres, shows China’s Leninist leadership has abandoned any hope of seducing Taiwan with sweet talk of freedom.

Meanwhile, China has shown it will brazenly use coral atolls in the South China Sea to expand its terrain and slaughter Indian solders on a disputed Himalayan mountainside.

So how will the West respond if China tries to attack or blockade its ally Taiwan?

As one protester in Hong Kong said to me, this is a long battle between democracy and despotism. ‘Who knows how it will end?’ he asked.



HUNDREDS are arrested in Hong Kong crackdown as riot police clash with protesters


Shields raised and brandishing guns, a phalanx of riot police advance on protesters in Hong Kong yesterday as China’s crackdown on dissent began.

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists were rounded up in the first wave of arrests related to a draconian new security law.

They included a 15-year-old girl who was waving a flag calling for independence for the former British territory. Police used water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to drive protesters back.

Beijing unveiled the details of the law on Tuesday night after weeks of uncertainty, pushing one of the world’s most glittering financial hubs on to a more authoritarian path.

Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: A woman reacts after she was hit with pepper spray deployed by police as they cleared a street with protesters rallying against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

Pictured: A woman reacts after she was hit with pepper spray deployed by police as they cleared a street with protesters rallying against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong

Pictured: Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing's new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing’s new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon

It came on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China and reverses promises made to respect its citizens’ freedoms. Protesters initially found themselves outnumbered by riot police, with groups of officers stationed at every major junction. Then thousands arrived to defy tear gas and pepper pellets sprayed their way.

Police said ten were arrested specifically under the new security law. The first was a man with a flag that read simply: ‘Hong Kong Independence.’ A woman holding a sign displaying the Union Flag was also held while others were detained for ‘possessing items advocating independence’. Around 370 were arrested on other charges, including unlawful assembly and possessing weapons.

The new law is seen as Beijing’s boldest step yet to bring the semi-autonomous territory under control of the authoritarian mainland.Brought in following anti-government protests last year, it outlaws any action deemed to be against the national interest of China.

Pictured: A police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Anyone shouting slogans or holding flags calling for independence is violating the law, regardless of whether violence is used. Even driving a bus full of protesters could be deemed illegal.

The most serious offenders will be labelled ‘terrorists’, transferred to the mainland and receive a maximum sentence of life in jail.

Some trials will be held behind closed doors. A new police unit unaccountable to local laws has also been given licence to operate in the territory. Beijing, not Hong Kong, will have power over how the law is interpreted.

Pictured: Helicopters with China's national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly over the Victoria Harbor during a ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Helicopters with China’s national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly over the Victoria Harbor during a ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Riot police secure an area in front of a burning road block during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Riot police secure an area in front of a burning road block during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A row of riot police officers is seen in front of a water cannon vehicle during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A row of riot police officers is seen in front of a water cannon vehicle during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Police said that one officer was stabbed in the arm by ‘rioters holding sharp objects’. They added that the suspects fled and bystanders offered no help.

Ahead of the protest, pro-democracy activist Tsang Kin-shing, of the League of Social Democrats, warned there was a ‘large chance of our being arrested’.

He said: ‘The charges will not be light, please judge for yourself.’

Pictured: Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong's Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as 'Long Hair', march at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as ‘Long Hair’, march at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Protesters chant slogans and gesture during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Protesters chant slogans and gesture during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Demonstrators take part in a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Demonstrators take part in a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A protester (centre R) is detained by police during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 - including nine under China's new national security law - as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city's handover to China

Pictured: A protester (centre R) is detained by police during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 – including nine under China’s new national security law – as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city’s handover to China

A man who gave his name as Seth, 35, said: ‘I’m scared of going to jail but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up.’ Media tycoon Jimmy Lai said the law meant Hong Kong was ‘dead’. He added: ‘It’s worse than the worst scenario imagined. Hong Kong is totally subdued, totally under control.’

Mr Lai, 72, who also supported the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989, thinks Beijing will come for him but is unfazed. ‘I cannot worry, because you never know what kind of measures they will take against me,’ he said.

Amnesty International said the new law was a ‘far-reaching threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms’. Its Asia-Pacific regional director, Nicholas Bequelin, added: ‘With its vague language and provisions for secret trials, hand-picked judges and mainland security agencies operating freely in the city, the law is wide open to politically motivated, capricious and arbitrary interpretation by the authorities.

Pictured: Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region addresses a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region addresses a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A person is detained by riot police officers during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A person is detained by riot police officers during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Riot police officers pinning down a protester during the demonstration. Following the passing of the National Security Law that would tighten on freedom of expression, Hong Kong protesters marched on the streets to demonstrate. Protesters chanted slogans, sang songs, and obstructed roads. Later, riot police officers arrested several protesters while using paintballs and pepper spray, July 1 2020

Pictured: Riot police officers pinning down a protester during the demonstration. Following the passing of the National Security Law that would tighten on freedom of expression, Hong Kong protesters marched on the streets to demonstrate. Protesters chanted slogans, sang songs, and obstructed roads. Later, riot police officers arrested several protesters while using paintballs and pepper spray, July 1 2020

‘Hong Kongers are facing an assault by the Beijing authorities and the Hong Kong government on freedoms that they have long enjoyed.’

The UK updated its travel advice on Hong Kong, saying there is an ‘increased risk of detention and deportation’. It advised Britons to ‘avoid protests and demonstrations.’ Political leaders across the spectrum have condemned China’s crackdown, which came quicker than anyone expected.

But Rod Wye, of the Chatham House think-tank, said Beijing will not care as it takes advantage of global instability and rifts opening up between Western powers.

‘The USA and EU are moving in different directions in many areas. It is perhaps to China’s advantage that that should be so,’ he said.

‘Expressions of concern are certainly not going to change the Chinese intention one little bit.’ 

Three million told: Come to UK for chance of citizenship

By The Daily Mail’s Defence and Security Editor 

Britain yesterday offered up to three million Hong Kong residents the chance to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship in response to China’s crackdown.

Boris Johnson accused Beijing of a ‘clear and serious breach’ of the deal struck when the former British territory was handed over in 1997.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced a new route for those with British national (overseas) status, and their dependants, to access visas letting them live and work in the UK before eventually applying for citizenship.

Pictured: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on July 1, 2020. Britain on Wednesday extended Hong Kong residents a broader path to citizenship in response to China's sweeping new security law for the former UK territory

Pictured: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on July 1, 2020. Britain on Wednesday extended Hong Kong residents a broader path to citizenship in response to China’s sweeping new security law for the former UK territory

Q&A on Hong Kong’s British Nationals Overseas (BNOs)

What is a British National (overseas)?

Hong Kongers could register for this special status before the 1997 handover. They get a UK passport but no automatic right to live and work in the UK. You cannot apply to become a BNO.

How many of them are there?

As of February, there were 349,881 BNO passport holders. The Government estimates that there are around 2.9million BNOs currently in Hong Kong.

What is Britain offering them?

A path to citizenship. BNOs will get five years ‘limited leave to remain’. They can then apply for ‘settled status’. After 12 months with settled status, they can apply for citizenship. Their close family will also be eligible. 

As of February, there were nearly 350,000 BNO passport holders. The Government estimates there are around 2.9million BNOs living in Hong Kong.

Mr Raab accused Beijing of the ‘strangulation’ of Hong Kong’s freedoms. The 1997 handover deal came with a promise of 50 years of autonomy which has allowed the city to thrive. ‘China, through this national security legislation, is not living up to its promises to the people of Hong Kong. We will live up to our promises to them,’ Mr Raab said.

He told MPs that BNOs would be granted five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK with the ability to work. They would then be eligible to apply for settled status and would be able to apply for citizenship after 12 months. Mr Raab said there would be no quotas on numbers.

Beijing’s security law, which took effect on Tuesday night, makes activities deemed against the national interest of China punishable by life in jail.

Mr Johnson told MPs: ‘The enactment and imposition of this national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and is in direct conflict with Hong Kong basic law. 

‘We made clear that if China continues down this path we would introduce a new route for those with British national overseas status to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship – and that is precisely what we will do.’

The new immigration rules will be implemented ‘in the coming months’, the Foreign Office said. Until then, the Government said BNOs would be able to come to the UK, subject to standard immigration checks.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy welcomed the move and called for the UK to lead an inquiry into ‘police brutality’ in Hong Kong.

Foreign Office permanent secretary Sir Simon McDonald yesterday summoned the Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, to underline objections to the legislation.

Lord Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor before the handover, described the new security law as Orwellian.

‘Heaven knows how it will affect the ability of journalists to report what’s happening in Hong Kong,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One. He added: ‘You can lock up people, you can’t lock up ideas. I still believe that the belief in freedom and the rule of law is going to have a longer lifespan than [president] Xi Jinping’s extremely unpleasant, dictatorial, totalitarian communism.’

Ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told MPs: ‘It is time to hit them in the one place China cares about, which is its economy.’ He added: ‘We run to China to buy goods and to invest, it is time for us now to review every single programme here in the UK and around the free world. We learnt a lesson 80 years ago about appeasement of dictators, maybe that should be applied today.’

Downing Street warned Beijing that Britain’s relationship with China ‘does not come at any price’ and said the UK was ‘clear-eyed’ when it came to its approach. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘It has always been the case that where we have concerns we raise them and where we need to intervene then we will.’ 

IAN BIRRELL: The hideous crushing of Hong Kong’s freedom is a victory for despots over democracy 

The first arrest was a man clutching a black flag inscribed with the words ‘Hong Kong Independence’ in both English and Chinese.

By the time dusk fell over the skyscrapers and ferries of one of the world’s great cities, another nine protesters —including a 15-year-old girl and a woman with a sign featuring the British flag — had been seized under a harsh new security law.

Created in secrecy by Communist Party chiefs in Beijing, this draconian measure is designed to throttle the freedoms that made Hong Kong such a special place. Its sudden imposition marked a dark day for democracy with big global consequences.

Those protesters now risk life imprisonment. They can be carted off into China’s sinister network of compliant courts and brutal jails as President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on the former British colony.

Yet still, thousands joined the territory’s annual rally to mark the anniversary of its handover to China in 1997 with hundreds of pro-democracy protesters seized by the increasingly thuggish police force.

Crowds chanted slogans such as ‘resist till the end’, despite fusillades of pepper spray and pellets. One man admitted he was scared of going to jail, ‘but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up’.

Such bravery is impressive, as I saw for myself last year, spending three weeks with these protesters amid the tear gas and baton charges as citizens raised in comparative freedom fought the repression of Communist China.

Pictured: China's President Xi Jinping voting on a proposal to draft a security law on Hong Kong during the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28 2020. China passed the sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, 2020

Pictured: China’s President Xi Jinping voting on a proposal to draft a security law on Hong Kong during the closing session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28 2020. China passed the sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, 2020

Futility

At a time when the West is so disturbingly complacent over its own democracies, it was inspiring to meet protesters prepared to risk everything to protect liberties that we take for granted.

Most were young, affable and highly-educated. They admitted to their fears and the probable futility of taking on the might of the Chinese state with umbrellas and wok lids (to place over rounds of tear gas). ‘What alternative do we have?’ asked one.

Yet it was also sad talking to such youthful idealists given the near-certain trajectory of their struggle. ‘I will keep fighting because this is our home and we must protect our freedoms at all costs,’ said one 18-year-old student, admitting she was terrified.

When I asked another young woman why she took such risks, she told me of visiting a Chinese city and being fined for jay-walking, the money taken from her online bank account by the time she had crossed the street thanks to all the facial recognition cameras. ‘Who wants to live in such a society?’ she asked rightly.

These people sought to avoid being sucked into a state relying on repression and technology to control one fifth of the world’s population. Now they fear for their future trapped in the straitjacket of China’s Orwellian society.

The chilling new security law was drafted in secret with even Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s dismal and subservient leader, kept in the dark — then imposed on Tuesday.

Yesterday, people were deleting social media accounts, fearing that family members who had voiced criticism would not be allowed back to visit them, and wondering if they might, one day, be carted off to a Chinese cell under the deliberately vague legislation.

‘We have to be very careful what we say since you have no idea what is a criminal offence now,’ one activist told me. ‘We all know the consequences if we are taken to China and forced to confess.’

The new law is designed to end the protests that exploded early last year, convulsing the territory. It has four core offences — separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries — that allow authorities to target dissidents at will.

Dystopian

The measure unleashes Chinese security agencies to operate openly for the first time, permits courts to hear cases in secret and even applies to foreign nationals, provoking fears that critics could be prosecuted when entering the territory.

This moment marks the death of the ‘one country, two systems deal’, which was agreed with Britain under the 1984 handover pact and supposed to have been kept for 50 years after Hong Kong was returned to China.

Clearly it shows that Beijing under Xi Jinping, its aggressive nationalist president, cannot be trusted. Boris Johnson deserves credit for his firm response in offering three million residents the chance to settle in this country.

These events underline our naivety in dealing with China, especially since Xi won power in 2013. Beijing had, after all, made its intentions clear six years ago with a white paper insisting it had ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’ over Hong Kong.

Yet first we thought trade would corrode Communist autocracy, then we hoped the internet could destroy dictatorship. David Cameron tried to chum up to Xi with boasts of a ‘golden era’ and toe-curling talk of helping ‘deliver the Chinese dream’.

Pictured: Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference on the new national security law in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020

Pictured: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference on the new national security law in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020

But as those Hong Kong protesters know all too well — and despite China’s amazing economic rise — China’s president is delivering a dystopian nightmare to his 1.3 billion citizens while rapidly building up military strength and flexing his growing power.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Beijing has allowed a forced abortion and sterilisation programme on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, who have already been subjected to 24-hour surveillance with many thrown into concentration camps.

One survivor of these awful places intended to crush traditional cultures told me of enforced medical treatments and horrific torture ranging from beatings and mass rape to medieval-style devices such as a nail-studded chair.

China has embraced the digital age yet found ways to ruthlessly control citizens with technology.

It is even creating a ‘social credit’ system to thwart ‘negative’ attitudes, which bars those failing to stick to its strict diktats from the best jobs, schools and rail services.

Hong Kong is, unfortunately, probably beyond salvation. But we must be aware of the implications as the world slides into a new Cold War tussle between autocracy and freedom.

For Xi, the ultimate prize is Taiwan — an island beacon of democracy just off China’s coast, once the refuge for forces defeated by Mao’s Communists, which he seeks to ‘reunify’ with its ‘motherland’.

Beijing hoped support for ‘peaceful unification’ would grow in Taiwan as the two nations grew close economically.

Now the crackdown in Hong Kong has showed the hollowness of its promises — so support for China has unsurprisingly crashed.

Slaughter

This hideous crushing of Hong Kong, regardless of the consequences for one of the world’s financial centres, shows China’s Leninist leadership has abandoned any hope of seducing Taiwan with sweet talk of freedom.

Meanwhile, China has shown it will brazenly use coral atolls in the South China Sea to expand its terrain and slaughter Indian solders on a disputed Himalayan mountainside.

So how will the West respond if China tries to attack or blockade its ally Taiwan?

As one protester in Hong Kong said to me, this is a long battle between democracy and despotism. ‘Who knows how it will end?’ he asked.

HUNDREDS are arrested in Hong Kong crackdown as riot police clash with protesters


Shields raised and brandishing guns, a phalanx of riot police advance on protesters in Hong Kong yesterday as China’s crackdown on dissent began.

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists were rounded up in the first wave of arrests related to a draconian new security law.

They included a 15-year-old girl who was waving a flag calling for independence for the former British territory. Police used water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray to drive protesters back.

Beijing unveiled the details of the law on Tuesday night after weeks of uncertainty, pushing one of the world’s most glittering financial hubs on to a more authoritarian path.

Riot police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: A woman reacts after she was hit with pepper spray deployed by police as they cleared a street with protesters rallying against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

Pictured: A woman reacts after she was hit with pepper spray deployed by police as they cleared a street with protesters rallying against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong

A protester uses a sharp object against a police officer who is trying to detain a man (C) during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong

Pictured: Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Riot police officers walk as anti-national security law protesters march during the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing's new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police made the first arrests under Beijing’s new national security law on July 1 as the city greeted the anniversary of its handover to China with protesters fleeing water cannon

It came on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China and reverses promises made to respect its citizens’ freedoms. Protesters initially found themselves outnumbered by riot police, with groups of officers stationed at every major junction. Then thousands arrived to defy tear gas and pepper pellets sprayed their way.

Police said ten were arrested specifically under the new security law. The first was a man with a flag that read simply: ‘Hong Kong Independence.’ A woman holding a sign displaying the Union Flag was also held while others were detained for ‘possessing items advocating independence’. Around 370 were arrested on other charges, including unlawful assembly and possessing weapons.

The new law is seen as Beijing’s boldest step yet to bring the semi-autonomous territory under control of the authoritarian mainland.Brought in following anti-government protests last year, it outlaws any action deemed to be against the national interest of China.

Pictured: A police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A police officer raises his pepper spray handgun as he detains a man during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Riot police (L) deploy pepper spray toward journalists (R) as protesters gathered for a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Anyone shouting slogans or holding flags calling for independence is violating the law, regardless of whether violence is used. Even driving a bus full of protesters could be deemed illegal.

The most serious offenders will be labelled ‘terrorists’, transferred to the mainland and receive a maximum sentence of life in jail.

Some trials will be held behind closed doors. A new police unit unaccountable to local laws has also been given licence to operate in the territory. Beijing, not Hong Kong, will have power over how the law is interpreted.

Pictured: Helicopters with China's national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly over the Victoria Harbor during a ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Helicopters with China’s national flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region fly over the Victoria Harbor during a ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Riot police secure an area in front of a burning road block during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Riot police secure an area in front of a burning road block during a demonstration against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A row of riot police officers is seen in front of a water cannon vehicle during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A row of riot police officers is seen in front of a water cannon vehicle during a march against the national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Police said that one officer was stabbed in the arm by ‘rioters holding sharp objects’. They added that the suspects fled and bystanders offered no help.

Ahead of the protest, pro-democracy activist Tsang Kin-shing, of the League of Social Democrats, warned there was a ‘large chance of our being arrested’.

He said: ‘The charges will not be light, please judge for yourself.’

Pictured: Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong's Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as 'Long Hair', march at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung, also known as ‘Long Hair’, march at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Protesters chant slogans and gesture during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Protesters chant slogans and gesture during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China

Pictured: Demonstrators take part in a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Demonstrators take part in a protest against the new national security law on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A protester (centre R) is detained by police during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. - Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 - including nine under China's new national security law - as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city's handover to China

Pictured: A protester (centre R) is detained by police during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. – Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people on July 1 – including nine under China’s new national security law – as thousands defied a ban on protests on the anniversary of the city’s handover to China

A man who gave his name as Seth, 35, said: ‘I’m scared of going to jail but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up.’ Media tycoon Jimmy Lai said the law meant Hong Kong was ‘dead’. He added: ‘It’s worse than the worst scenario imagined. Hong Kong is totally subdued, totally under control.’

Mr Lai, 72, who also supported the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989, thinks Beijing will come for him but is unfazed. ‘I cannot worry, because you never know what kind of measures they will take against me,’ he said.

Amnesty International said the new law was a ‘far-reaching threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms’. Its Asia-Pacific regional director, Nicholas Bequelin, added: ‘With its vague language and provisions for secret trials, hand-picked judges and mainland security agencies operating freely in the city, the law is wide open to politically motivated, capricious and arbitrary interpretation by the authorities.

Pictured: Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region addresses a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: Xie Feng, commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region addresses a flag-raising ceremony to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland on July 1, 2020 in Hong Kong, China

Pictured: A person is detained by riot police officers during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: A person is detained by riot police officers during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020

Pictured: Riot police officers pinning down a protester during the demonstration. Following the passing of the National Security Law that would tighten on freedom of expression, Hong Kong protesters marched on the streets to demonstrate. Protesters chanted slogans, sang songs, and obstructed roads. Later, riot police officers arrested several protesters while using paintballs and pepper spray, July 1 2020

Pictured: Riot police officers pinning down a protester during the demonstration. Following the passing of the National Security Law that would tighten on freedom of expression, Hong Kong protesters marched on the streets to demonstrate. Protesters chanted slogans, sang songs, and obstructed roads. Later, riot police officers arrested several protesters while using paintballs and pepper spray, July 1 2020

‘Hong Kongers are facing an assault by the Beijing authorities and the Hong Kong government on freedoms that they have long enjoyed.’

The UK updated its travel advice on Hong Kong, saying there is an ‘increased risk of detention and deportation’. It advised Britons to ‘avoid protests and demonstrations.’ Political leaders across the spectrum have condemned China’s crackdown, which came quicker than anyone expected.

But Rod Wye, of the Chatham House think-tank, said Beijing will not care as it takes advantage of global instability and rifts opening up between Western powers.

‘The USA and EU are moving in different directions in many areas. It is perhaps to China’s advantage that that should be so,’ he said.

‘Expressions of concern are certainly not going to change the Chinese intention one little bit.’ 

Three million told: Come to UK for chance of citizenship

By The Daily Mail’s Defence and Security Editor 

Britain yesterday offered up to three million Hong Kong residents the chance to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship in response to China’s crackdown.

Boris Johnson accused Beijing of a ‘clear and serious breach’ of the deal struck when the former British territory was handed over in 1997.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced a new route for those with British national (overseas) status, and their dependants, to access visas letting them live and work in the UK before eventually applying for citizenship.

Pictured: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on July 1, 2020. Britain on Wednesday extended Hong Kong residents a broader path to citizenship in response to China's sweeping new security law for the former UK territory

Pictured: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons in London on July 1, 2020. Britain on Wednesday extended Hong Kong residents a broader path to citizenship in response to China’s sweeping new security law for the former UK territory

Q&A on Hong Kong’s British Nationals Overseas (BNOs)

What is a British National (overseas)?

Hong Kongers could register for this special status before the 1997 handover. They get a UK passport but no automatic right to live and work in the UK. You cannot apply to become a BNO.

How many of them are there?

As of February, there were 349,881 BNO passport holders. The Government estimates that there are around 2.9million BNOs currently in Hong Kong.

What is Britain offering them?

A path to citizenship. BNOs will get five years ‘limited leave to remain’. They can then apply for ‘settled status’. After 12 months with settled status, they can apply for citizenship. Their close family will also be eligible. 

As of February, there were nearly 350,000 BNO passport holders. The Government estimates there are around 2.9million BNOs living in Hong Kong.

Mr Raab accused Beijing of the ‘strangulation’ of Hong Kong’s freedoms. The 1997 handover deal came with a promise of 50 years of autonomy which has allowed the city to thrive. ‘China, through this national security legislation, is not living up to its promises to the people of Hong Kong. We will live up to our promises to them,’ Mr Raab said.

He told MPs that BNOs would be granted five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK with the ability to work. They would then be eligible to apply for settled status and would be able to apply for citizenship after 12 months. Mr Raab said there would be no quotas on numbers.

Beijing’s security law, which took effect on Tuesday night, makes activities deemed against the national interest of China punishable by life in jail.

Mr Johnson told MPs: ‘The enactment and imposition of this national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. It violates Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and is in direct conflict with Hong Kong basic law. 

‘We made clear that if China continues down this path we would introduce a new route for those with British national overseas status to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship – and that is precisely what we will do.’

The new immigration rules will be implemented ‘in the coming months’, the Foreign Office said. Until then, the Government said BNOs would be able to come to the UK, subject to standard immigration checks.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy welcomed the move and called for the UK to lead an inquiry into ‘police brutality’ in Hong Kong.

Foreign Office permanent secretary Sir Simon McDonald yesterday summoned the Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, to underline objections to the legislation.

Lord Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor before the handover, described the new security law as Orwellian.

‘Heaven knows how it will affect the ability of journalists to report what’s happening in Hong Kong,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One. He added: ‘You can lock up people, you can’t lock up ideas. I still believe that the belief in freedom and the rule of law is going to have a longer lifespan than [president] Xi Jinping’s extremely unpleasant, dictatorial, totalitarian communism.’

Ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told MPs: ‘It is time to hit them in the one place China cares about, which is its economy.’ He added: ‘We run to China to buy goods and to invest, it is time for us now to review every single programme here in the UK and around the free world. We learnt a lesson 80 years ago about appeasement of dictators, maybe that should be applied today.’

Downing Street warned Beijing that Britain’s relationship with China ‘does not come at any price’ and said the UK was ‘clear-eyed’ when it came to its approach. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘It has always been the case that where we have concerns we raise them and where we need to intervene then we will.’ 

IAN BIRRELL: The hideous crushing of Hong Kong’s freedom is a victory for despots over democracy 

The first arrest was a man clutching a black flag inscribed with the words ‘Hong Kong Independence’ in both English and Chinese.

By the time dusk fell over the skyscrapers and ferries of one of the world’s great cities, another nine protesters —including a 15-year-old girl and a woman with a sign featuring the British flag — had been seized under a harsh new security law.

Created in secrecy by Communist Party chiefs in Beijing, this draconian measure is designed to throttle the freedoms that made Hong Kong such a special place. Its sudden imposition marked a dark day for democracy with big global consequences.

Those protesters now risk life imprisonment. They can be carted off into China’s sinister network of compliant courts and brutal jails as President Xi Jinping tightens his grip on the former British colony.

Yet still, thousands joined the territory’s annual rally to mark the anniversary of its handover to China in 1997 with hundreds of pro-democracy protesters seized by the increasingly thuggish police force.

Crowds chanted slogans such as ‘resist till the end’, despite fusillades of pepper spray and pellets. One man admitted he was scared of going to jail, ‘but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up’.

Such bravery is impressive, as I saw for myself last year, spending three weeks with these protesters amid the tear gas and baton charges as citizens raised in comparative freedom fought the repression of Communist China.

Pictured: China's President Xi Jinping voting on a proposal to draft a security law on Hong Kong during the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28 2020. China passed the sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, 2020

Pictured: China’s President Xi Jinping voting on a proposal to draft a security law on Hong Kong during the closing session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 28 2020. China passed the sweeping national security law for Hong Kong on June 30, 2020

Futility

At a time when the West is so disturbingly complacent over its own democracies, it was inspiring to meet protesters prepared to risk everything to protect liberties that we take for granted.

Most were young, affable and highly-educated. They admitted to their fears and the probable futility of taking on the might of the Chinese state with umbrellas and wok lids (to place over rounds of tear gas). ‘What alternative do we have?’ asked one.

Yet it was also sad talking to such youthful idealists given the near-certain trajectory of their struggle. ‘I will keep fighting because this is our home and we must protect our freedoms at all costs,’ said one 18-year-old student, admitting she was terrified.

When I asked another young woman why she took such risks, she told me of visiting a Chinese city and being fined for jay-walking, the money taken from her online bank account by the time she had crossed the street thanks to all the facial recognition cameras. ‘Who wants to live in such a society?’ she asked rightly.

These people sought to avoid being sucked into a state relying on repression and technology to control one fifth of the world’s population. Now they fear for their future trapped in the straitjacket of China’s Orwellian society.

The chilling new security law was drafted in secret with even Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s dismal and subservient leader, kept in the dark — then imposed on Tuesday.

Yesterday, people were deleting social media accounts, fearing that family members who had voiced criticism would not be allowed back to visit them, and wondering if they might, one day, be carted off to a Chinese cell under the deliberately vague legislation.

‘We have to be very careful what we say since you have no idea what is a criminal offence now,’ one activist told me. ‘We all know the consequences if we are taken to China and forced to confess.’

The new law is designed to end the protests that exploded early last year, convulsing the territory. It has four core offences — separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign countries — that allow authorities to target dissidents at will.

Dystopian

The measure unleashes Chinese security agencies to operate openly for the first time, permits courts to hear cases in secret and even applies to foreign nationals, provoking fears that critics could be prosecuted when entering the territory.

This moment marks the death of the ‘one country, two systems deal’, which was agreed with Britain under the 1984 handover pact and supposed to have been kept for 50 years after Hong Kong was returned to China.

Clearly it shows that Beijing under Xi Jinping, its aggressive nationalist president, cannot be trusted. Boris Johnson deserves credit for his firm response in offering three million residents the chance to settle in this country.

These events underline our naivety in dealing with China, especially since Xi won power in 2013. Beijing had, after all, made its intentions clear six years ago with a white paper insisting it had ‘comprehensive jurisdiction’ over Hong Kong.

Yet first we thought trade would corrode Communist autocracy, then we hoped the internet could destroy dictatorship. David Cameron tried to chum up to Xi with boasts of a ‘golden era’ and toe-curling talk of helping ‘deliver the Chinese dream’.

Pictured: Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference on the new national security law in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020

Pictured: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a press conference on the new national security law in Hong Kong, China, 01 July 2020

But as those Hong Kong protesters know all too well — and despite China’s amazing economic rise — China’s president is delivering a dystopian nightmare to his 1.3 billion citizens while rapidly building up military strength and flexing his growing power.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Beijing has allowed a forced abortion and sterilisation programme on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, who have already been subjected to 24-hour surveillance with many thrown into concentration camps.

One survivor of these awful places intended to crush traditional cultures told me of enforced medical treatments and horrific torture ranging from beatings and mass rape to medieval-style devices such as a nail-studded chair.

China has embraced the digital age yet found ways to ruthlessly control citizens with technology.

It is even creating a ‘social credit’ system to thwart ‘negative’ attitudes, which bars those failing to stick to its strict diktats from the best jobs, schools and rail services.

Hong Kong is, unfortunately, probably beyond salvation. But we must be aware of the implications as the world slides into a new Cold War tussle between autocracy and freedom.

For Xi, the ultimate prize is Taiwan — an island beacon of democracy just off China’s coast, once the refuge for forces defeated by Mao’s Communists, which he seeks to ‘reunify’ with its ‘motherland’.

Beijing hoped support for ‘peaceful unification’ would grow in Taiwan as the two nations grew close economically.

Now the crackdown in Hong Kong has showed the hollowness of its promises — so support for China has unsurprisingly crashed.

Slaughter

This hideous crushing of Hong Kong, regardless of the consequences for one of the world’s financial centres, shows China’s Leninist leadership has abandoned any hope of seducing Taiwan with sweet talk of freedom.

Meanwhile, China has shown it will brazenly use coral atolls in the South China Sea to expand its terrain and slaughter Indian solders on a disputed Himalayan mountainside.

So how will the West respond if China tries to attack or blockade its ally Taiwan?

As one protester in Hong Kong said to me, this is a long battle between democracy and despotism. ‘Who knows how it will end?’ he asked.