China summons British official over Hong Kong remarks

An activist holds a sign showing a photo of barred British Conservative Party activist Ben Rogers during a protest outside Hong Kong's Central Government Offices in Hong Kong, China on Oct 13, 2017. Mr Rogers was denied entry to Hong Kong on Oct 11. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China has summoned a British official in Beijing and lodged "stern representations" about recent comments from London expressing concern about a British rights activist being denied entry to Hong Kong, it said on Friday (Oct 20).

Ben Rogers, a co-founder of Britain's ruling Conservative Party's Human Rights Commission, has been a vocal critic of Chinese-ruled Hong Kong's treatment of human rights activists, including that of jailed student protest leader Joshua Wong.

He was denied entry to Hong Kong on Oct 11. Britain said on Tuesday it had summoned the Chinese ambassador to express its concern.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated that Hong Kong is part of China, and the central government handles Hong Kong's foreign affairs and Beijing and Hong Kong decide who to let in or not as a matter of Chinese sovereignty.

"China has already summoned in an official from the British Embassy in Beijing, and lodged stern representations about Britain's recent series of wrong remarks and actions on this issue," Lu told a daily news briefing.

"I must to stress here that Hong Kong matters are purely an internal affair of China's. China will not permit any government, organisation or individual to interfere in China's internal affairs in any way."

Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, is governed under a "one country, two systems" formula that promises it a higher degree of autonomy and freedom than on the mainland.

Last week, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said London needed an explanation from Hong Kong and Beijing about the treatment of Rogers.

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