Stephen Kinnock – 2021 Speech on Chinese Government Sanctions on UK Citizens

The speech made by Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP for Aberavon, in the House of Commons on 13 April 2021.

The Labour party stands in solidarity with the nine British citizens, including Members of both Houses, who have been sanctioned by the Chinese Government solely for calling out Beijing’s appalling human rights abuses against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang. We welcome the Prime Minister’s invitation to those who were sanctioned to meet him, and we hope that the Government are providing those individuals with adequate advice and support. However, we are deeply concerned about the rank hypocrisy and inconsistency in the Government’s actions regarding China.

When Beijing introduced the Hong Kong national security law last summer, the UK withdrew from two UK-China Government investment forums: the joint trade and economic commission and the economic and financial dialogue. However, it is reported that those forums are now reopening. Will the Minister confirm that?

On Hong Kong, does the Minister now agree with the Opposition that British judges who serve in Hong Kong are only lending a veneer of credibility to a broken system and that they should therefore withdraw? Lord Reed’s review was announced in November. When will its conclusions be published? Where are the Magnitsky sanctions against Carrie Lam and the human rights violators in Hong Kong?

In January, the Foreign Secretary said that “we shouldn’t be” doing trade deals with countries committing human rights abuses

“well below the level of genocide”,

yet the Government whipped their MPs against the genocide amendment to the Trade Bill. Will the Minister explain that rank hypocrisy and why the Foreign Secretary says one thing in public and something else altogether in private? The Government claim to be alive to the threat that Chinese state-backed investment poses to Britain’s economic security and prosperity, so why on earth is the Business Secretary weakening our defences by watering down the National Security and Investment Bill? Today, Taiwan suffered the biggest Chinese military incursion into its airspace to date of 25 planes. What conversations is the Minister having with his counterparts about that worrying development?

It is clear that the Government have no strategy on China at home and no strategy on China abroad. Will they now commit to an audit of every aspect of the UK-China relationship so that we can finally call time on the Conservatives’ failed golden era strategy and replace weakness, division and inconsistency with an approach that is instead based on strength, unity and consistency?