China has denounced British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt as “shameless”, following his remarks about Beijing’s handling of weeks of protests in Hong Kong.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday that China had made a diplomatic complaint to London after Mr. Hunt threatened “consequences” if Beijing neglected commitments made when it took back Hong Kong from Britain in 1997.
China’s communist authorities have stepped up a verbal war with Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler since mass protests in the city against a now suspended legislation that would allow extradition to mainland China.
“To say that the freedoms of Hong Kong residents is something Britain strived for is simply shameless,” Mr. Geng told a news briefing.
Only after Hong Kong’s return to China did its people get an “unprecedented” guarantee about democracy and freedom, he said.
Mr. Geng added that Hong Kong was entirely China’s internal business, and that the UK’s responsibilities under the Sino-British joint declaration were no longer of consequence.
The comments followed remarks by Mr. Hunt to Reuters on Monday, condemning violence on both sides and warning of consequences if China neglected commitments to allow freedoms to Hong Kong not enjoyed in mainland China, including the right to protest.
Late on Monday, hundreds of Hong Kong protesters besieged and broke into the legislative chamber, following a demonstration marking the anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule.
China called the violence an “undisguised challenge” to the “one country, two systems” model under which Hong Kong has been ruled for twenty-two years.
The turmoil in Hong Kong was sparked by an extradition bill opponents say will undermine Hong Kong’s much-cherished rule of law and give Beijing powers to prosecute activists in mainland courts.