The City of London Corporation has accused China of breaching the Sino-British treaty, after imposing draconian national security laws on Hong Kong.
The local authority’s Court of Common Council – which comprises all of its elected officials – voted in favour of the motion, which accused Beijing of denying Hong Kongers the right to enjoy a “high degree of autonomy” as set out in the handover treaty.
The motion – which was passed with a vote of 49 for, 29 against and eight abstentions – also supported the government’s plans to offer bespoke visas, with a pathway to citizenship, to 2.9m Hong Kong residents.
Among those to vote against the motion was Lord Mayor of London William Russell and the corporation’s chair of policy and resources Catherine McGuinness.
In July, Beijing imposed new security legislation on Hong Kong that bans criticism of the Chinese government and effectively ends freedom of speech in the region.
The new law will also see Beijing set up security agencies in Hong Kong for the first time.
The new law sparked mass protests in Hong Kong and forced some of the region’s most famous pro-democracy activists to flee the country.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the new laws violated the Sino-British treaty that was signed when the UK handed Hong Kong over to China.
City of London councillor Graeme Harrower said Guildhall had a moral responsibility to also censure China’s government over its actions in Hong Kong.
“The government of the, self-described, People’s Republic of China abuses the human rights of its own citizens, including, but not only, the Uighurs and the people of Hong Kong, as well as the people of occupied Tibet,” he said.
“Like all tyrants, the PRC government should be condemned and opposed, not feted and supported.”
Harrower also hit out at those voting against the motion, saying that claims made by policy chair Catherine McGuinness that the corporation should “keep out of international politics” were “disingenuous”.
“The promotion of the UK in international trade, which is one of the corporation’s self-appointed functions, is as much part of international politics as defence,” he said.
In a statement released today, the City of London Corporation said: “The City of London Corporation today told Hong Kong residents they would always be welcome in the Square Mile.”