China on Wednesday lodged a diplomatic protest with the UK over Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s remarks on the unprecedented pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, asserting that he was basking in the glory of “faded British colonialism” and “obsessed” with lecturing others.
UK Foreign Secretary Hunt has been expressing strong support to the demonstrators in the former British colony protesting against a controversial extradition law, which the people of Hong Kong apprehend could be used to send political dissidents from the territory to mainland China for prosecution.
The protest intensified on Monday when demonstrators stormed the Legislative Council (LegCo) building in the city, left anti-Beijing graffiti on the walls such as “Hong Kong is not China”, and hung the colonial-era flag.
While recognising that Hong Kong is part of China, Hunt on Tuesday asserted that the 1997 declaration under which London handed over Hong Kong to Beijing is still legally binding.
He warned of “serious consequences” if Beijing neglected its commitments and supress pro-democracy protests.
Britain handed over Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula which allows freedoms such as freedom of speech, right to protest and an independent judiciary not enjoyed by the people in mainland China.
Reacting to Hunt’s remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang told the media here that “we deplore and firmly oppose Hunt’s wrong remarks. We have made stern representations (diplomatic protests) to the British side in Beijing and in London. We urge British side to stop making such wrong remarks and stop interfere in Hong Kong’s and China’s internal affairs.”
Geng took exception to Hunt’s statement that the declaration is still legally binding and his warning of serious consequences if the commitments are not implemented.
Geng said China has already expressed its strong dissatisfaction and opposition to Hunt’s remarks over Hong Kong on Tuesday.
“But he seems to be basking in the glory of faded colonialism and obsessed with lecturing others. Well here is something I want to tell. Regarding the Sino-British declaration I need to emphasise again that Hong Kong has returned to China and the rights and obligations under the declaration from the British side have been implemented,” Geng said.
On July 1, 1997, China resumed its sovereignty over Hong Kong and Chinese government governs Hong Kong under the Constitution and the Basic Law, he said.
“The UK on the other hand has no sovereignty, administrative power or supervising power over Hong Kong. There is no so-called responsibility at all. The UK considers itself as the guardian which is nothing but a delusion. It is just shameless to say that Hong Kong residents’ freedoms are negotiated for them by the British side,” Geng said.
“I want to remind Hunt that during the British colonial period in Hong Kong there was no democracy at all. The residents at that time did not have the right to rally on the street. It was just after the return of Hong Kong to China, the Chinese government started implementing One Country Two systems polices,” he said.
He said Hong Kong people are administering Hong Kong with high degree of autonomy and have unprecedented rights and freedoms.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman questioned British backing to protestors who broke through the legislative (LegCo) building.
“The violent storming incident on July 1 is a serious violation of violation of law that damages social order. Hunt has neglected the fact and called it a repression. He is deliberately distorting the facts,” Geng said, asking will Britain allow its Parliament to be stormed and damaged by protestors.
“I want to emphasise that Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China. Its affairs are purely domestic. It will not allow any foreign government or individual to directly interfere. We hope Hunt will not interfere in our affairs because such attempts will be in vain,” he said.
Terming the protestors as “ultra-radicals”, China on Tuesday expressed firm opposition to the US, UK and EU’s backing for such protests.