China tells UK to ‘refrain’ from Hong Kong ‘interference’

Updated July 04, 2019

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In this file photo, broken glass and graffiti are seen at the Legislative Council, a day after protesters broke into the building in Hong Kong, China on July 2.  — Reuters
In this file photo, broken glass and graffiti are seen at the Legislative Council, a day after protesters broke into the building in Hong Kong, China on July 2. — Reuters

LONDON: China warned Britain on Wednesday that it must “refrain from further interference” in Hong Kong’s protests or risk “further damaging” its relationship with Beijing.

China has appeared irked by Britain’s public rebukes over the unprecedented anti-Beijing demonstrations that have rocked Hong Kong in recent weeks.

“I do hope that the British government will realise the consequences and...

refrain from further interference, from further damaging the relationship,” China’s UK ambassador Liu Xiaoming told a press conference broadcast by Sky News.The ambassador warned Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, who is in the running to become Britain’s new prime minister, to “respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference of internal affairs.

“As long as these principles are violated, there will be a problem in the relations between our two countries.

“It’s very disappointing when senior officials of his (Hunt’s) calibre show support for these law-breaking people,” he added, referring to Hunt’s comments supporting those protesting against China.

Hunt tweeted that “good relations between countries are based on mutual respect and honouring the legally-binding agreements between them,” saying those values would “preserve the great relationship” between the two countries.

Prime Minister Theresa May earlier said she had raised “concerns” over the protests, with Liu Xiaoming criticising “hypocritical” British politicians.

“Instead of condemning it, they showed support, sympathy to these law breakers,” he said.

Under the terms of the 1997 handover deal from British to Chinese rule, Hong Kong enjoys rights and liberties unseen on the mainland. But protesters accuse Beijing of reneging on that deal with the help of unelected leaders.

12 arrested

Hong Kong police said on Wednesday they had arrested 12 people in connection with incidents on July 1, although it was unclear if they were among protesters who smashed their way into the city’s legislature and ransacked the building.

The police said they had also arrested six people linked to incidents the day before, and eight others suspected of being involved in the illegal disclosure online of police officers’ private information.

In recent weeks, Hong Kong has been beset by public protests against the government’s handling of an extradition bill that would allow people in the city, with its cherished tradition of judicial independence, to be sent to stand trial in China, where courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

The unprecedented siege and brief occupation of the Legislative Council, or Legco, took the demonstrations to a new and dangerous level on a symbolic day — the July 1 anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China from Britain.

Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam had strongly promoted the bill, but suspended it on June 15 in the face of public protests against it. Critics have called on her to officially kill the bill, but she has resisted.

The issue has galvanised a wide swath of Hong Kong society and drawn hundreds of thousands of people to the streets to protest in recent weeks.

In a brief statement, police said the 12 people arrested in connection with violence on July 1 had been linked to episodes that took place in the morning.

The attack on the legislature did not begin to unfold until the afternoon.

On July 1, police published a statement condemning the pre-dawn blocking of roads near the legislature, saying “some protesters stole iron poles and bricks from nearby construction site and guard rails from nearby roads”.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2019