Daily US Times: China has warned the UK not to interfere over Hong Kong issues following the imposition of the territory’s new security law, as one pro-democracy campaigner begged for international support.
Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said the UK’s offer of a path to citizenship for up to three million Hong Kongers amounted to “gross interference”.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made this offer after Beijing brought in the controversial and sweeping new law.
Opponents say it erodes the city’s freedoms as a semi-autonomous region.
Joshua Wong, a pro-democracy Hong Kong activist, had earlier called for more support, asking his fellow Hong Kongers and the wider world not to “kowtow” to Beijing.
But Ambassador Liu said he hoped the UK would reconsider its offer, adding ”The UK government keeps making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs.”
Mr Liu said a decision on exactly how China intended to respond to the offer would be made once it knew the details.
The UK has argued that China has reneged on a 1997 agreement, which offered certain freedoms to Hong Kong for 50 years in return for handing the territory back to Beijing.
A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson later on Monday urged China not to interfere if Hong Kongers with British National (Overseas) status sought to come to the UK.
The spokesman said: “We would expect China to understand the importance of adhering to international law.”
“We are currently assessing the National Security Law and its legal ramifications in terms of extradition with Hong Kong,” he added.
Facebook and its messaging service WhatsApp sain on Monday that they had “paused” processing requests for information from the Hong Kong government and law enforcement agencies “pending further assessment of the impact of the National Security Law”.
According to a statement from the company, the assessment will include “formal human rights due diligence and consultations with human rights experts”.
Numerous other countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, and Japan have also expressed concern over the imposition of the law. But China also called them not to interfere over Hong Kong.
The new law, which was brought in last week, targets subversion, secession and terrorism with punishments of up to life in prison.
Opponents like Mr Wong say the law effectively ends freedom of speech. China rejects this.
Mr Wong, who appeared in court on Monday with two other activists charged with illegal assembly, said the law was already having a chilling effect, but he said he was determined to keep fighting.
Over the weekend, books by pro-democracy activists were removed from public libraries.