The UK on Thursday summoned Chinese envoy Liu Xiaoming over "unacceptable" remarks after he had brushed off Britain’s criticism of the Hong Kong protests, and said that London had seemingly forgotten that the city is no longer a colony.
Liu Xiaoming’s remarks were echoed by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, who slammed British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, saying the latter seemed to “be fantasizing” about “the faded glory of British colonialism” and exhibits the “bad habit of gesticulating while looking down on other countries’ affairs”.
“Hong Kong is part of China and we have to accept that,” Mr Hunt said on Tuesday. “But the freedoms in Hong Kong are enshrined in a joint declaration” signed with its former colonial power, the UK.
Mr Hunt added that the UK expected the “legally binding agreement to be honoured” and “ if it isn’t there will be serious consequences”.
But Mr Geng Shuang warned Mr Hunt on his comments that “social activities” in Hong Kong made it important to reiterate the UK’s commitment to the agreement, stating that China “deplores and strongly rejects” UK interference in Hong Kong affairs.
“We advise the UK to know its place, stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs in any form and do more for its prosperity and stability rather than the opposite,” he said in a Monday press statement.
But on Tuesday, the Chinese foreign minister spokesman reaffirmed Beijing’s position following a tweet Mr Hunt made praising Hong Kong protestors who stormed the city’s parliament building on the anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, stating that China had lodged “stern representations” with the UK.
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) 1 July 2019
“However, in total disregard of China's concerns, the UK has frequently and flagrantly interfered in China's internal affairs with wanton criticism,” Mr Geng Shuang said. “We deplore and firmly oppose that.”
He reminded the UK foreign minister that Hong Kong was “purely China’s internal affairs” and was determined to “reject foreign interference”.
“We urge the UK to reflect upon its erroneous words and deeds and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's domestic affairs in any form,” he said.
The 1997 Sino-British Joint Declaration gave Hong Kong status as a special administrative region and took place at midnight on 1 July, 1997 after a 99-year lease of the city to the UK, effectively ending 156 years of UK colonial rule in the Chinese territory. Following the handover, Hong Kong governed using separate economic and political systems from the mainland, and the British Empire ended as the region was the UK’s last overseas colony.
Protests have broken out across Hong Kong over an extradition bill tabled by Beijing allowing suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to the mainland. Clashes have been condemned by London and Beijing, with both sides issuing strong warnings on respecting the rule of law and sovereignty of Hong Kong amid the violent clashes.