China tells Britain it has no say in HK matters in wake of protests

People thronging the streets of Hong Kong yesterday to protest peacefully against the controversial extradition Bill, on the anniversary of the city's return to China from British rule. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said yesterday th
People thronging the streets of Hong Kong yesterday to protest peacefully against the controversial extradition Bill, on the anniversary of the city's return to China from British rule. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said yesterday that Britain's rights and obligations under the joint declaration on the city had ended.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China's Foreign Ministry said yesterday that Britain no longer has any responsibility for Hong Kong and needs to stop "gesticulating" about its former colony, after the British government reiterated its commitment to the joint declaration with China on the city.

Britain's support for Hong Kong and "its freedoms is unwavering", Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said yesterday, even as he warned anti-government protesters against violence after they stormed the city's Legislative Council.

The prime ministerial candidate tweeted "to stress UK support for Hong Kong and its freedoms is unwavering on this anniversary day".

"No violence is acceptable, but HK people must preserve right to peaceful protest exercised within the law, as hundreds of thousands of brave people showed today," he wrote.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said earlier in the day that Britain's rights and obligations under the joint declaration had ended.

"Britain has no so-called responsibility for Hong Kong. Hong Kong matters are purely an internal affair for China. No foreign country has a right to interfere," Mr Geng told a daily news briefing.

"Recently, Britain has continuously gesticulated about Hong Kong, flagrantly interfering. We are extremely dissatisfied with this and resolutely opposed," he added.

 
 
 
 

"We urge Britain to know its place and stop interfering in any form in Hong Kong matters and do more for its prosperity and stability rather than the opposite."

China, two years ago, announced that it considered the joint declaration - which laid the blueprint over how the city would be ruled after its return to China - a historical document that no longer had any practical significance.

Mr Hunt last week called for an independent investigation into clashes between police and protesters, and suspended export licences for crowd control equipment.

Beijing has been measured in its response to the Hong Kong protests so far.

Within China, there has been a media blackout on the unrest for weeks, with just a few editorials in English. During the Occupy Central Movement in 2014, there was mass censorship of the protests.

Meanwhile, the European Union yesterday urged anti-government protesters in Hong Kong to use restraint and avoid escalation.

These actions are "not repre-sentative of the vast majority of demonstrators, who have been peaceful throughout successive protests", the EU's diplomatic arm said.

"In the wake of these incidents, it is all the more important to exercise restraint, avoiding escalatory responses, and to engage in dialogue and consultation to find a way forward," the statement said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2019, with the headline 'China tells Britain it has no say in HK matters'. Print Edition | Subscribe