Steerpike Steerpike

Will James Cleverly stand with Hong Kong?

Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, 2020 (Credit: Getty images)

Another day, another speech on China. Tonight it’s the turn of Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, speaking in all his finery at the Lord Mayor’s Easter Banquet at Mansion House. Clad in his best glad rags, Cleverly is expected to argue that isolating China would be against the UK’s national interest. The two nations instead ought to work together to solve ‘humanity’s biggest problems’, with Cleverly arguing it would be ‘wrong’ to ‘declare a new Cold War’ but urging Beijing to honest about the ‘biggest military build-up in peacetime history’. Jolly good luck convincing Xi Jinping’s jingoistic goons on that…

One aspect of Sino-British relations which trailed versions of Cleverly’s speech does not address is Hong Kong. The UK still, technically, has legal obligations to the former British colony – even if Beijing’s ruthless crackdown on civil liberties has made that a sick joke. And a host of parliamentarians still keenly feel their historic responsibility to the people of that region, as demonstrated by a letter which Mr S has got his hands on. More than a dozen MPs – including Liam Fox, Iain Duncan Smith and Damian Green – have joined forces to urge Cleverly to meet with Sebastian Lai, the son of Jimmy Lai, the Hong Kong media tycoon imprisoned by the region’s autocratic apparatchiks. The MPs and peers – who are all members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) – note that:

Both the United States government and European External Action Service have expressed strong support for Mr. Lai and his family, calling explicitly for his release, along with other political prisoners in Hong Kong. The UK has not done so, in spite of Mr.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles


Written by

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

Topics in this article


Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in