Benedict Rogers, a British activist who was barred from Hong Kong last Wednesday, will found a group to report on the city’s progress on human rights, democracy and freedoms.
He will form the group to monitor the city’s affairs, despite Beijing’s formal complaint to the UK about interference in China’s internal matters. He said the city “needs serious advocacy, particularly in London” and other European capitals.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he was “very concerned” by the decision to bar the deputy chairman of the UK Conservative Party’s human rights commission.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor denied any wrongdoing while Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chun-ying said “the Chinese side has lodged solemn representations with the UK” in response to the British government’s demand for an explanation.
Immigration Department officers at the airport on Wednesday refused Rogers entry and put him on a plane back to Thailand, where he had just come from, and onwards to London.
Beijing has administered Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” framework since the city was handed from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Under the current formula, Hong Kong is allowed certain freedoms not enjoyed by people on the mainland. However, there is a perception that freedoms and other rights in the city have been watered down since the transfer of sovereignty.
However, the president of Hong Kong’s Law Society, Thomas So, says he didn't think barring British activist Benedict Rogers from entering Hong Kong undermined the "One Country, Two Systems" principle.
So said Rodgers was not a Hong Kong resident, and did not enjoy the freedom to enter or leave the SAR as guaranteed in the Basic Law.
Rogers provided the Post with details of his plans for his London-based NGO focused on Hong Kong.
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“Our aim would be to establish a new organisation that would provide more coordinated research and monitoring so we can have in-depth briefings and information for policymakers in London,” he said, adding that they would work closely with British parliamentarians and government officials.
Full details of the group, its plans and supporters would be revealed at the end of the month, Rogers said.
Ahead of Roger's failed visit, the Chinese embassy in London made a number of indirect warnings that he should not travel to the city. They were apparently concerned that he intended to visit leaders of the local pro-democracy movement, including the imprisoned Demosisto activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung.
Rogers denied that he planned to visit Wong.
He had planned to meet pan-democratic lawmakers on his private visit to the city in addition to political activists, whom he declined to name, citing concern for their safety.
Lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, who met Rogers in London earlier this month, said he knew of Rogers’ plans in advance and expressed support for the group.
“We need to tell the world what is happening in Hong Kong to gather support … so we have more voices to speak for us internationally,” Hui said.