Following the Government statement on the conviction of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown says if the Chinese Government wishes it to be believed that they are upholding the highest standards of human rights, then it is essential that the court is allowed to do its duty with full independence.
In his excellent statement, my right hon. Friend emphasised the importance of the independence of the judiciary in Hong Kong, with judges of the calibre of Baroness Hale and Lord Hoffmann. If the Chinese Government really wish it to be believed that they are upholding the highest standards of human rights, is it not essential that the court is allowed to do its duty with full independence?
I thank my hon. Friend, who has worked hard on these matters, which he takes seriously. Indeed, he headed a delegation when I first went to mainland China some 15 years ago, and I am well aware that he keeps an eagle eye on what is happening, particularly in Hong Kong.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. When I was most recently in Hong Kong, I had a chance to speak to senior legal figures, and they do feel that the judicial system and its independence are being upheld but, clearly, the sense in which other rights are being questioned and eroded by the Chinese authorities raises some concerns in that regard. Hitherto, we have been confident that cases coming before the Hong Kong judiciary have been dealt with in a fair way and without political interference.