Seven former UK Foreign Secretaries have urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to form a global alliance over China's controversial national security law for Hong Kong.
In their letter to Johnson, the cross-party group comprising Jeremy Hunt, David Miliband, Jack Straw, William Hague, Malcolm Rifkind, David Owen and Margaret Beckett, said that the UK government must be seen to lead the international response, as many countries take their cue from Britain over its former colony, the <em>BBC</em> reported on Monday.
All the former Secretaries expressed their concern at what they call China's "flagrant breach" of Sino-British agreements by imposing tough national security laws on Hong Kong.
They urged Johnson to set up an "international contact group" of allies to coordinate any joint action, similar to that set up in 1994 to try to end the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
In response, a Downing Street spokesman insisted the government was already playing a leading role with international partners in urging China to think again.
Incumbent Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the new security legislation "very clearly violates" the autonomy that is guaranteed under Chinese law as well as that in the 1997 agreement.
He confirmed the UK will allow those who hold British National (Overseas) passports to come to the UK and apply to study and work for an extendable 12-month period.
This will in turn "provide a path to citizenship", he told the <em>BBC</em> on Sunday.
China is facing mounting criticism over a planned security law for Hong Kong which would make it a crime to undermine Beijing's authority, said the <em>BBC</em> report.
Hong Kong was handed back to China from British control in 1997 but under a unique agreement.
The former British colony enjoys some freedoms not seen in mainland China – and these are set out in a mini-constitution called the Basic Law.
But there are fears the proposed law, which has sparked a mass of anti-mainland protests in Hong Kong, could compromise some of the freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law..