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UK: authorities must be prepared to investigate Chinese vice president over human rights abuses if he attends Coronation

In response to reports that Han Zheng, China’s vice president and the architect of the human rights crackdown on Hong Kong, will attend the coronation of King Charles, Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said:

“The Government needs to do much more than have talks with Han Zheng - he must be held accountable for his role in the brutal crackdown on dissent and political opposition in Hong Kong. 

“It must be made crystal clear to Han Zheng that the UK won’t abandon the people of Hong Kong to growing Chinese repression, and the UK authorities will act vigorously in response to any attempts to intimidate and silence the Hong Kong community living in the UK.

“If sufficient admissible evidence concerning his alleged involvement in human rights abuses in Hong Kong and mainland China is made available to the police and prosecutorial authorities here, they are obliged under international law to open a criminal investigation. 

“The invitation to Han Zheng risks sending the very dangerous message that the UK is prepared to prioritise the financial rewards that come from good relations with China over its atrocious human rights record in places like Hong Kong and Xinjiang. 

“There must be no question of the UK authorities allowing the Coronation to be used as a tool for international diplomacy for anyone involved in human rights abuses.” 

Crackdown on Hong Kong freedoms

As the head of the Central Leading Group for Hong Kong and Macao Affairs, Han Zheng was in charge of Hong Kong affairs for the Chinese government from 2018 to March this year. During this period the notorious National Security Law was introduced which has severely restricted freedom of speech and put anyone in Hong Kong who participates in protests at serious risk of prosecution. Amnesty has documented the use of excessive force by the police against protesters in Hong Kong since 2019, and according to recent figures at least 243 people have been arrested under the National Security Law since it was introduced in 2020. The law has led to the closure of approximately 100 NGO and civil society groups, as conditions have made it impossible for them to operate.

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