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China protests to Britain after deputy PM meets Hong Kong activists

Published on Jul 16, 2014 10:36 PM
 
China issued a formal complaint to Britain on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (above) met Hong Kong pro-democracy activists campaigning against Beijing's tightening control of the former British territory. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - China issued a formal complaint to Britain on Wednesday after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met Hong Kong pro-democracy activists campaigning against Beijing's tightening control of the former British territory.

Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 under a"one-country, two-systems" deal ensuring it a high degree of autonomy. But pro-democracy campaigners have warned of the erosion of the city's freedoms and are pushing for the direct election of its leader by universal suffrage in 2017.

Mr Clegg's office said he met veteran activists Anson Chan and Martin Lee on Tuesday, with Mr Chan and Mr Lee raising concerns over China's jurisdiction of the region, and questioning Britain's commitment to Hong Kong's democratic development.

Asked about the meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was firmly opposed to any foreign interference in its internal affairs on any pretext. "The UK's actions are an interference in China's internal affairs. China expresses strong dissatisfaction," Mr Hong said in a statement posted on the ministry website. "China urges the UK-side to earnestly respect China's stance and concerns, abide by its promises... and take practical efforts to safeguard China-UK relations and bilateral cooperation."

 
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