China has warned the UK against interfering when it comes to Hong Kong, telling London that the affairs of its former colony belong to Beijing. The remarks come after a UK report expressed concerns about the “integrity” of Hong Kong law enforcement.
Speaking at a daily press briefing in response to the half-year report on Hong Kong released by the British government on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang warned that “Hong Kong is China’s domestic affair. Foreign countries have no right to interfere.”
“We demand that Britain be discreet with its words and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs,” Geng added, stating that Beijing is “resolutely opposed” to Britain’s report, and that it does not accept its “improper comments” and “unfounded criticism” of China.
Hong Kong’s government also rejected the report, reiterating that foreign governments should not interfere in its affairs.
In the report, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he had specific concerns about the “integrity of Hong Kong’s law enforcement.”
He cited the case of Lee Bo and four other Hong Kong booksellers who specialized in gossipy books about China’s leaders, including its president. While such books are banned on the mainland, they are legal in Hong Kong. Despite that, the five went missing and were later found to be detained by China.
Referring to the case, Johnson said it was a serious breach of the “one country, two systems” arrangement under which Hong Kong returned to China in 1997.
China has denied any wrongdoing in the case, and Geng stressed that the “one country, two systems” policy has made remarkable achievements, noting Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.
The spokesperson also insisted that Beijing has strictly followed the Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China, Xinhua reported.
Hong Kong first became a British colony in 1842. It was occupied by Japan during World War II, until the UK resumed control in 1945. Negotiations between Britain and China resulted in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which laid the path for the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong 13 years later.
The UK report by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office was the 39th in a series of reports published in six-monthly intervals, and covers January to June 2016. The reports began following the transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997.