BEIJING • China called on Taiwan to stay out of Hong Kong's affairs yesterday, saying self-ruled Taiwan was "talking nonsense" about the former British colony and warning it not to damage Hong Kong's stability.
Chinese leaders are concerned about a fledgling independence movement in Hong Kong, which returned to mainland rule in 1997 with a promise of autonomy, and recent protests in the city.
Beijing gave a rare interpretation of Hong Kong's mini-Constitution, the Basic Law, last month to effectively bar pro-independence city lawmakers Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai Ching from taking office there. The pair lost an appeal yesterday against an earlier Hong Kong court ruling that disqualified them after they insulted China while taking their oaths last month.
Asked about comments from legislators from Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which favours the island's formal independence, offering support for Mr Leung and Ms Yau, China's Taiwan Affairs Office said independence activists from both sides were trying to link up and sow chaos in Hong Kong.
"Compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, especially those in Hong Kong, should be on high alert for this," spokesman Ma Xiaoguang told reporters in Beijing.
"The words and deeds of (Sixtus) Leung and Yau Wai Ching run contrary to mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong and Hong Kong residents' basic interests, but relevant parties in Taiwan are helping them, to what intent?" Mr Ma asked.
"We advise the Taiwan side not to talk nonsense about the Hong Kong issue, interfere in Hong Kong's enforcement of 'one country, two systems', or damage Hong Kong's prosperity and stability."
Hong Kong returned to China under a "one country, two systems" agreement that ensured its freedoms and wide-ranging autonomy, including a separate legal system. But Communist Party rulers in Beijing have ultimate control.
China considers Taiwan a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.
Relations between China and Taiwan have worsened since the election of the DPP's Ms Tsai Ing-wen as Taiwan's President in January.