Hong Kong: Chinese Ambassador Warns UK of “Interference”

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Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said the UK made “irresponsible remarks”


China has warned the United Kingdom not to interfere with Hong Kong after the imposition of a new national security law, when an activist for democracy asked for international support.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said that the UK’s offer of a path to citizenship for up to three million Hong Kongers amounted to “gross interference”.

The offer came after Beijing introduced the controversial and sweeping new law.

Opponents say this erodes the freedoms of the territory as a semi-autonomous region.

Activist Joshua Wong had previously called for more support, asking his fellow Hong Kong people and the rest of the world not to “bow” to Beijing.

But Ambassador Liu said he hoped the UK would reconsider its offer.

“The British government continues to make irresponsible remarks about the affairs of Hong Kong,” he told reporters.

The ambassador said a decision on exactly how Beijing would respond to the offer would be made once it knew the details.

The United Kingdom has argued that China has reneged on an agreement concluded in 1997, which offered certain freedoms to Hong Kong for 50 years in return for the return of the territory to Beijing.


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Media captionHong Kong citizens holding British passport divided over whether to leave the country

Later today, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged China not to interfere if Hong Kong nationals with British national (overseas) status seek to come to the United Kingdom.

“We expect China to understand the importance of adhering to international law,” said the spokesman.

He added, “We are currently assessing the national security law and its legal ramifications in terms of extradition with Hong Kong.

“There are already extensive guarantees of extradition in the UK. Courts are obliged to prohibit the extradition of a person to any country if this is incompatible with their fundamental rights or if the request seems to be motivated by their political opinion. “

Hong Kong’s new security law

Also on Monday, Facebook and its WhatsApp messaging service said it had “suspended” the processing of requests for information from the Hong Kong government and law enforcement “pending further assessment of the impact of the law on national security ”.

The assessment will include “formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts,” the statement said.

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Reuters

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Joshua Wong, center, appeared in court with fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow


Many other countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia, have also expressed concern about the imposition of the law.

The new law, introduced last week, targets secession, subversion and terrorism with sentences of up to life in prison.

Opponents like Mr. Wong say that this effectively puts an end to freedom of expression. Beijing rejects this.

Wong, who appeared in court on Monday with two other activists accused of illegal assembly, said the law already has a deterrent effect.

Over the weekend, books by pro-democracy activists were removed from public libraries.

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Media captionMany residents are concerned that the new law means the end of the “one country, two systems” principle

But Mr. Wong was determined to keep fighting.

“We now know that this is a difficult battle, but it does not matter that our friends in the global community continue their international advocacy,” he told reporters in court.

“In Hong Kong, we always urge people to vote in the next primary elections scheduled for this weekend.

“We are also encouraging more people in Hong Kong or the global community to continue spreading the word in Beijing [sic] that to bow down to China is not an option and we must stand up and fight. ”

What is security law?

The law is vast and gives Beijing powers it has never had before to shape life in Hong Kong. The law criminalizes hate speech by the Chinese central government and the Hong Kong regional government.

It also allows for closed trials, wiretapping of suspects and the possibility of suspects being tried on the Chinese mainland.

Acts including damage to public transport facilities – which often occurred during the 2019 protests – can be considered terrorism.

Online freedom is also a concern, as Internet service providers may be required to hand over data at the request of the police.

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