Diplomatic spat over Hong Kong threatens China-Britain ties

Protesters cleaning up at the entrance of the Legislative Council Complex after trashing the building on Monday (July 1).
Protesters cleaning up at the entrance of the Legislative Council Complex after trashing the building on Monday (July 1).ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

A deepening diplomatic spat between China and Britain over Hong Kong is threatening ties between them.

The British Foreign Office summoned Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming in London on Wednesday after he called a rare news conference and attacked British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt for backing the violent protest that destroyed part of Hong Kong's Legislative Council building on Monday night.

This came after Beijing made stern representations to Britain for meddling in China's internal matters and for "fantasising in the faded glory of British colonialism", after Mr Hunt warned of serious consequences should China renege on its "one country, two systems" commitment.

The two sides have engaged in an escalating war of words since last week, when Mr Hunt, who is also busy campaigning to be Britain's next prime minister, expressed concern over the mass protests in Hong Kong over a proposed extradition Bill that would allow China to nab suspects in the city to face courts on the mainland.

Yesterday, Mr Hunt denied he had supported the violence but added that the Hong Kong issue "isn't something that we would just gulp and move on".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2019, with the headline 'Diplomatic spat over HK threatens China-Britain ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe