China rebukes Britain over ‘gross interference’ in Hong Kong

Blanked out by the authorities: Protesters holding up blank papers during a demonstration in a mall in Hong Kong on Monday.

Blanked out by the authorities: Protesters holding up blank papers during a demonstration in a mall in Hong Kong on Monday.   | Photo Credit: ISAAC LAWRENCE

China’s Ambassador to London accused Britain on Monday of gross interference and making irresponsible remarks over Beijing’s imposition of new security legislation in Hong Kong that he said could damage future Chinese investment.

Britain has described the security law as a “clear and serious” violation of the 1984 Joint Declaration under which it handed back its colony to China 13 years later and said that London would offer around three million residents a path to British citizenship.

“The U.K. government keeps making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs,” Ambassador Liu Xiaoming told reporters in the strongest rebuke Beijing has issued to London since Britain criticised the security law. On the British offer to give British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport holders in Hong Kong a path to British citizenship, he said:

“This move constitutes gross interference in China’s internal affairs and openly tramples on the basic norms governing international relations.” He said China would decide on its response after seeing how Britain proceeded with its passport offer.

Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson describes himself as a ”Sinophile”, he has also spoken of the need to “stick up for our friends in Hong Kong”, straining relations with Beijing.

The Huawei question

He has also toughened his language on a provisional decision to allow China’s Huawei to be involved in the development of Britain's 5G infrastructure, saying he would protect critical infrastructure from “hostile state vendors”.

Mr. Johnson has faced intense pressure from the United States and some British lawmakers to ban the telecommunications equipment maker on security grounds and Britain’s Media Minister said on Monday the Huawei decision was not set in stone.

Mr. Liu said that, although China wanted friendly relations with Britain, there might be many consequences if Britain treated Beijing as an enemy or with suspicion.

“We want to be your friend. We want to be your partner. But if you want to make China a hostile country, you will have to bear the consequences,” he said.

He said a U-turn on its Huawei decision would damage Britain’s image as an open, business-friendly environment and it meant London was having to “bounce to the tune of the other countries”.

“The China business community are all watching how you handle Huawei. If you get rid of Huawei it sends out a very bad message to other Chinese businesses,” Mr. Liu said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong released additional details of the new security law on Monday.

The details of the new legislation stated that authorities will have the power to enter and search places for evidence. They can also restrict people under investigation from leaving Hong Kong.

It may also allow for confiscation of the proceeds related to any offence endangering national security. It will require foreign and Taiwan political organisations and agents to provide information on activities concerning Hong Kong.

Beijing also said on Monday that it reserved the right to take more action after Canada suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 2:11:37 PM |

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