China warns UK not to interfere amid ongoing Hong Kong protests
China has warned the United Kingdom not to “interfere in its domestic affairs”, as the countries are embroiled in a growing diplomatic dispute over recent protests in Hong Kong.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, said Sino-British relations have been “damaged” by comments made by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and others in support of the protests.
For weeks demonstrators have held protests against a controversial bill that would allow residents of Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China, with critics concerned it could be used to extradite political dissidents.
On Monday a group of activists occupied the Legislative Council building for several hours before being evicted by police.
In a number of interviews and social media posts, Mr Hunt urged China to listen to the concerns of the Hong Kong people, while calling on protesters to refrain from violence.
Mr Hunt said on Twitter on Tuesday that “UK support for Hong Kong and its freedoms is UNWAVERING” and, despite denouncing violence, said the special administrative region “MUST preserve [the] right to peaceful protest”.
The Chinese Government has made a formal complaint about Mr Hunt, who is currently vying for the British Prime Ministership, accusing him of “colonial delusions”.
Mr Liu said he was “disappointed” by the UK’s response to the protests, and suggested there could be further “problems” if the UK did not recognise China’s right to “territorial integrity” with regard to Hong Kong and respect the “principle of non-interference in domestic affairs”.
He added that it was “hypocritical” of the UK to criticise China when under British rule there had been no elections and no right to protest.
Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, and has operated under a “one country, two systems” policy that guarantees Hong Kong a high level of economic autonomy and personal freedom for at least 50 years.
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