China cautions United Kingdom on meddling
China warned Britain on Wednesday that interfering in Hong Kong will backfire, after the former colonial power vowed to give sanctuary to locals who may flee the city if a controversial security law is passed.
The United States and Britain have enraged Beijing with their criticism of planned national security legislation that critics fear would destroy the semi-autonomous city’s limited freedoms.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has further angered Beijing by suggesting that it had time to “reconsider” the plan, which could soon be enacted after the proposal was endorsed by China’s rubber-stamp parliament last week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meanwhile, said London would not “walk away” from Hong Kongers worried by Beijing’s control over the international business hub.
Johnson wrote in a column for The Times newspaper and the South China Morning Post that he would offer millions of Hong Kongers visas and a possible route to UK citizenship if China persists with its national security law.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing had lodged “serious representations” with London over Raab’s remarks, which “grossly interfered” in Hong Kong’s affairs.
“We advise the UK to step back from the brink, abandon their Cold War mentality and colonial mindset, and recognise and respect the fact that Hong Kong has returned” to China, Zhao said at a regular briefing.
Zhao said London must “immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s internal affairs, or this will definitely backfire.”
Hong Kong has been rocked by months of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests over the past year.
In response Beijing has announced plans to introduce a sweeping national security law covering secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign interference.
In parliament on Tuesday, Raab said he had reached out to Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada about contingency plans if the law creates a deluge of Hong Kongers looking to leave. – AFP