Hong Kong protests: China warns against foreign interference in HK affairs

Protesters urged to turn out in full force by the protest organisers in response to the government's cancellation of the scheduled talks on Friday, Oct 10, 2014. Foreign countries have no right to interfere in the affairs of Hong Kong in any sha
Protesters urged to turn out in full force by the protest organisers in response to the government's cancellation of the scheduled talks on Friday, Oct 10, 2014. Foreign countries have no right to interfere in the affairs of Hong Kong in any shape or form, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday, as Beijing continued its unwavering support to the city's  leader for his handling of the pro-democracy protests. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

BEIJING - Foreign countries have no right to interfere in the affairs of Hong Kong in any shape or form,  Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday,  as Beijing continued its unwavering support to the city's  leader for his handling of the pro-democracy protests.

Responding to  a call by United States' for a "swift, transparent and complete" investigation into allegations of Hong Kong police beating up protesters from the pro-democracy movement, Mr Hong said the city is a  special administrative region of China, and no other country or individual has the right to "make indiscreet remarks or criticisms on this issue".

His statement, made at the Chinese MFA's daily press conference, comes on a day Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying reopened his offer of talks with protest leaders after abruptly pulling out of discussions aimed at ending weeks of mass democracy rallies.

They were made a day after British Prime Minister David Cameron's call for the United Kingdom to stand up for the rights of people of Hong Kong, where violence escalated in the last two days after video footage of plain clothes officers beating a handcuffed demonstrator emerged on Wednesday morning.

The US had said it was "deeply concerned" by the police brutality calling authorities to show restraint and for protesters to "express their views peacefully".

Authorities have already begun an investigation into incidents of excessive force used on student protesters by some members of the police force, Mr Hong said on Thursday, adding that the protests, which have paralysed key parts of the city, are "illegal activities that no society would tolerate".

Reacting to Wednesday's statement in British Parliament by Mr  Cameron, Mr Hong said  Hong Kongers' basic rights and freedoms have been fully protected since the hand over.

Mr Cameron had said said the agreement brokered when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 included guarantees on "rights and freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, and, indeed, of strike", and added    "these are important freedoms, jointly guaranteed through that joint declaration and it's that which, most of all, we should stand up for".

In response, Mr Hong said democracy in Hong Kong is making "historical progress" under Beijing's proposal for Hong Kongers to elect their Chief Executive from two or three vetted candidates from 2017. 

But, protesters on the streets have cast this proposal as a false fulfillment of China's promise to grant universal suffrage and want public nomination of candidates. 

A second round of talks with protesters on their demands are to be scheduled for sometime next week, but Mr Leung has made it clear that any talks would be held within the parameters of Basic Law which does not allow public nomination of candidates.

rchang@sph.com.sg