Beijing is preparing to impose new national security laws in Hong Kong after lengthy pro-democracy protests in the city last year, whose residents enjoy many freedoms inaccessible in mainland China.
“The people of Hong Kong have been betrayed by China,” Patton was quoted as saying by the Times.
Britain has a “moral, economic and legal” obligation to stand up for its former colony, he added.
Patton attended the handover of the colony to China in 1997, after more than 150 years of British rule. The city’s autonomy was guaranteed through the “one state, two systems” principle included in a joint declaration adopted in 1984 by the then prime ministers of the two countries, Margaret Thatcher and Zhao Jiang. But China’s plans to enforce Hong Kong’s national security laws are destroying the declaration, Patton said.
The United States described the bill as the “last breath” of the city’s autonomy.
“What we are seeing is a new Chinese dictatorship,” Patton said. “The British government must make it clear that we are witnessing the complete destruction of the joint declaration,” he added.
Hong Kong leader Kari Lam said her government would co-operate fully with the Chinese parliament to protect national security. According to her, this will not affect the rights and freedoms, nor the independence of the Hong Kong courts.