UK Considers Pulling Judges Out of Hong Kong

Britain may pull its judges out of Hong Kong’s highest court, a move that could deal a blow to the city’s legal reputation.

The presence of foreign judges serving in Hong Kong is enshrined in its Basic Law, the mini-constitution that guarantees the city’s freedoms under Chinese rule.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Nov. 23 that pulling the judges would be in response to recent actions by Beijing in the city.

The UK sees a new law for Hong Kong imposed by China this summer as a breach of guarantees made before the city was handed back to Beijing in 1997.

Promises of Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy included keeping up common law from its time under British rule.

The new national security law came after a year of sometimes violent protests.

It allows for a crackdown on what the authorities broadly define as secession, sedition, and collusion with foreign powers.

London has also objected to new rules from mainland China to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong.

Raab wrote in a report on the city that “This has been, and continues to be, the most concerning period in Hong Kong’s post-handover history.”

He said he was considering whether it was appropriate for British judges to sit on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

Raab’s comments came just hours after Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy campaigner Joshua Wong, and two fellow activists, were remanded in custody, after pleading guilty to charges of organizing and inciting an unauthorized assembly.

Hong Kong’s government has hit back at Raab’s remarks, calling them sweeping attacks and groundless accusations.