China says it expressed grave concerns to Japan over Abe's Hong Kong remarks

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo wants to take the lead among the Group of Seven nations to issue a statement about the situation in Hong Kong.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo wants to take the lead among the Group of Seven nations to issue a statement about the situation in Hong Kong.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - China said on Wednesday (June 10) it expressed grave concerns to Japan after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo wants to take the lead among the Group of Seven (G-7) nations to issue a statement about the situation in Hong Kong.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that Hong Kong is "entirely China's internal affairs".

"The relevant country should abide by international laws and basic principles of international relations," she said.

Nations have expressed concerns over China's move to impose a new security law for Hong Kong, which many see as eroding the "one country, two systems" framework that underpins the administration of the former British colony.

The legislation has reignited demonstrations in the city, following months of pro-democracy protests last year triggered by opposition to a since-scrapped Bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland.

Mr Abe said earlier Wednesday in Parliament: "Obviously, we acknowledge the G-7 has a mission to lead the global public opinion and Japan wants to take a lead in issuing a statement based on 'one nation, two systems' in Hong Kong."

Japan had already issued a statement independently expressing serious concern about Beijing's move on May 28 - the day China approved a resolution to draft the national security law for Hong Kong - and called in the Chinese ambassador to convey its view.

Mr Abe has been treading an increasingly narrow path amid a deepening standoff between China – Japan’s biggest trade partner – and the US, its sole military ally.

Ties between the US and China turned sour over trade, and have worsened in recent months over the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s handling of Hong Kong.

 
 
 

The Japanese prime minister said in parliament that the G-7 remained significant even after the establishment of the G-20 because its members share the "universal values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law."

US President Donald Trump last month postponed the G-7 summit to the autumn, and proposed inviting the leaders of Russia, South Korea, Australia and India, alongside the usual participants.

Mr Abe, who has worked hard to build a rapport with Mr Trump, has said he plans to attend the summit if it’s held in person, even if that could mean he is forced to quarantine afterward. 

Tensions are also growing between China and other members of the G-7, including the UK, where lawmakers are asking questions about whether Huawei Technologies Co should supply equipment for Britain’s 5G network. 

Mr Abe said this week that Japan was not in a position to set dates for a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was postponed from April as both countries struggled to control the virus.

The occasion had been meant to mark a return to normal for the often-fraught relationship between the two countries. 

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told the same parliamentary committee that Japan did not have China in mind as it considers loosening its border controls.

Priority will be given to countries including Vietnam and New Zealand, where new cases have fallen to zero, he said.