Hong Kong's last British governor says Trump has made it harder for unified response to China

LONDON (REUTERS) – US President Donald Trump has made it harder to get a unified international response to China’s actions in Hong Kong, the last British governor of the territory said on Wednesday (July 1).

Mr Chris Patten spoke after Hong Kong police fired tear gas and water cannon at thousands of protesters who had gathered for an annual rally to mark the anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China in 1997, in defiance of new security legislation introduced on Tuesday by Beijing.

“It’s very important that we stand up together, not starting a new Cold War with China, but making absolutely clear we will call out China when it behaves badly,” Mr Patten told a webinar hosted by the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin.

“In some respects it’s made more difficult by the fact that the so-called leader of the West, the present American president, doesn’t seem to believe very much in alliances”.

Mr Patten added that he suspected a new American administration under Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Europe could work well together on China.

Mr Trump and Mr Biden will face off in the US presidential election on Nov 3.

Britain has said Hong Kong’s new national security law is a serious violation of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration which enshrined the territory’s high degree of autonomy ahead of the 1997 handover back to Beijing.

Mr Patten said Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he described as an “old-fashioned dictator”, had taken advantage of the coronavirus crisis to turn the screw on Hong Kong.

“He’s behaved pretty loutishly all around the region and around the world,” he said, adding that the current situation threatened Hong Kong’s role as an Asian financial hub.

But he also said business leaders in the city should think about what clients thought about them signing up to the new security law.

“Most of the people who run them (businesses) have another passport in their back pocket and they perhaps should think a little more about those who work for them who don’t have the option of going elsewhere if it all goes wrong,” Mr Patten said.

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