A LOT of others are commenting and writing about Dominic Cummings just now, so I won’t as I don’t think I have much to add. For me it is pretty straightforward, he should go, go now, and we should all get on with the job of fighting this awful virus. The emails I have had over the past 72 hours are unanimous on the point, with many stories of personal heartbreak and real anger at the way he has acted.

We are a long way from out of this crisis yet and trust in the rules going forward, especially as we boost track and trace, will be crucial – Cummings has undermined that trust. Given his prominence, he has in Scotland as well.

But it is during mid-crisis that we should keep an eye on the wider world, and the crisis is being used by a number of regimes worldwide to do things that are deeply regrettable. None more so than in Hong Kong, which is not some far-off place of which we know nothing (to quote a particularly shameful lapse in world view), we in Scotland are bound to the people of Hong Kong, as Die Zeit put it – it is West Berlin.

In foreign affairs, everything is connected to everything else and few things really come out of nowhere. The roots of the present crisis in Hong Kong go back centuries and we in Scotland are more connected to it than many. Scots merchants, missionaries and mercenaries were instrumental in pushing empire ambitions in the Far East and the colony of Hong Kong had and still has close links with Scotland. When it was handed back to China in 1997 it was under a formal international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed in 1984.

The declaration committed China, for a period of 50 years – until 2047 – to respect the One Country Two Systems model under which Hong Kong would continue to have considerable domestic self-government. The Brits even latterly introduced democracy to the territory (something we had not felt the need to do for a few hundred years) and this and the capitalist system were enshrined in the Hong Kong Basic Law before the handover.

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Since that point, the looming presence of the Communist Party in Beijing has seen numerous small infractions of the Basic Law and interference in the internal workings of the territory. This came to a head last in 2014 with the Umbrella Movement, where there was a boiling over of frustration and, most worryingly, a serious attempt by Beijing to walk away from the commitments.

An uneasy truce has been in place since but now we have seen China taking serious steps to use the Covid-19 crisis to introduce an internationally controversial “security law” for Hong Kong. Many places have enacted emergency cover legislation (including us) so this in itself is not unusual, but Hong Kong is supposed to be responsible for passing its own laws, not rubber stamping edicts.

It is not a forgone conclusion. Beijing has submitted a draft resolution to its parliament which will be voted (and probably passed) in the next two weeks. After that it will be fleshed out into an actual draft law. Details are unclear at the moment, however, the Hong Kong government has indicated that the Beijing-drafted law would make criminal acts out of any of the following: treason – betraying China, attempting to kill or overthrow the government or disclosing official secrets; secession – breaking away from the country; subversion – undermining the power or authority of the central government; terrorism – using violence or intimidation against people; and activities by foreign forces that interfere in Hong Kong.

It is pretty sweeping stuff and given the pattern of behaviour from Beijing over the years it is deeply concerning. So I was proud to co-sign a letter organised by Hong Kong Watch with more than 250 other parliamentarians from across the world to highlight the problem and to urge the UK Government to find some head space and some backbone and remember it is a guarantor of the declaration.

In the statement we say that the draft bill “is a comprehensive assault on the city’s autonomy, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms. The integrity of one country, two systems hangs by a thread. It is the genuine grievances of ordinary Hong Kongers that are driving protests. Draconian laws will only escalate the situation further, jeopardising Hong Kong’s future as an open Chinese international city. If the international community cannot trust Beijing to keep its word when it comes to Hong Kong, people will be reluctant to take its word on other matters. Sympathetic governments must unite to say that this flagrant breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration cannot be tolerated.”

International law matters and matters to small states more than big states because without it the world will be shaped by economic or military might, not agreed rules.

With the US under their disastrous President Trump going sloppy shouldered on defence of international law, it is all the more important that those of us who can speak up, do. The UK is in an important position here and faces a real test. Speak up or buckle? We’ve heard great tell of Global Britain, but here is a real test of whether it matters or not. I’m pretty confident where Scotland wants to be.