LONDON: The United Kingdom on Tuesday (Jun 2) called on China to step back from the brink over a national security law in Hong Kong that it said was a breach of Beijing's international commitments to the "one country, two systems" principle agreement on the former colony.
"To be very clear and specific about this, the imposition of national security legislation on Hong Kong by the government in Beijing rather than through Hong Kong's own institutions lies in direct conflict with Article 23 of China's own basic law," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told parliament.
"And it lies in direct conflict with China's international obligations freely assumed under the Joint Declaration."
He added: "There is time for China to reconsider, there is a moment for China to step back from the brink and respect Hong Kong's autonomy and respect China's own international obligations.
"If China continues down this current path, if it enacts this national security law, we will consider what further response we make, working with those international partners and others."
Raab said China "has a choice to make here", warning against any action for which there is no turning back.
"It can cross the Rubicon and violate the autonomy and the rights of the people of Hong Kong or it can step back, understand the widespread concern of the international community and live up to its responsibilities as a leading member of the international community.
"We don't seek to prevent China's rise, far from it, we welcome China as a leading member of the international community and we look to engage with China on everything from trade to climate change," Raab added.
Asked about the risk to the Hong Kong dollar peg, Raab said: "If China is willing to interfere on political and autonomy grounds, it is also likely to pose a longer term threat to the economic prosperity and economic model that Hong Kong reflects and embodies."
"The sad reality is that if China continues down this track, it will be strangling what has long been the jewel in the economic crown," Raab said.
"There is still an opportunity for China to step back," he said but added, "we think that it is unlikely that will happen".
Hong Kong fell to sixth place from third in the latest ranking of global financial centres, according to the Z/Yen global financial centres index, behind New York, London, Tokyo, Shanghai and Singapore. It was Asia's top hub in 2019.