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Hammond to discuss political reforms with Hong Kong leader


Philip Hammond is kicking off a tour of East Asia

Philip Hammond is kicking off a tour of East Asia

Philip Hammond is kicking off a tour of East Asia

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is to hold talks with Hong Kong's leader as he kicks off his East Asia tour.

The Cabinet minister is expected to stress the need for political reform to be restarted in the territory when he meets Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung.

Mr Hammond will also promote the need for freedoms and rights to be respected amid fears Beijing has been eroding civil liberties, most recently seen internationally via the case of five booksellers who disappeared last year.

The booksellers were associated with the Mighty Current publisher, known for titles that are banned in mainland China, and included British citizen Lee Bo. They have since reappeared.

Speaking ahead of his visit on Friday, Mr Hammond said: " Rule of law is the cornerstone of an open and fair society.

"Hong Kong's success is underpinned by its independent judiciary and respect for rights and freedoms.

"Although the 'one country, two systems' model is generally working well in Hong Kong, concerns have been raised over the recent booksellers' case.

"With strong rule of law and a high degree of autonomy, Hong Kong continues to be a global hub for finance, business and legal services."

The Foreign Office said Mr Hammond's visit will be the first to Hong Kong by a British Foreign Secretary in more than five years.

He is also scheduled to meet members of Scotland's rugby sevens team and Hong Kong and British businesses before travelling to Japan for the G7 foreign ministers' meeting.