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Iran Press TV

China strongly protests to UK over foreign secretary's Hong Kong remarks

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 03 June 2020 10:25 AM

China has filed stern representations with the United Kingdom over remarks by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accusing Beijing of violating the autonomy of Hong Kong with the passage of a national security law in the global financial hub.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Wednesday that London had no jurisdiction in or supervision over Hong Kong.

Raab on Tuesday called on China to withdraw what he referred to as an "authoritarian" national security law for Hong Kong, claiming that it risked ruining one of the jewels of Asia's economy as well as China's own reputation.

"There is time for China to reconsider, there is a moment for China to step back from the brink and respect Hong Kong's autonomy and respect China's own international obligations," Raab said.

"The sad reality is that if China continues down this track, it will be strangling what has long been the jewel in the economic crown," added the British top diplomat when asked about the future of the Hong Kong dollar peg.

Hong Kong's legislature debated and passed the Beijing-proposed law last Wednesday, potentially criminalizing sedition, secession, and subversion.

The bill also requires that China's national anthem be taught in schools and sung by organizations, and imposes jail terms or fines against those who disrespect it.

Despite Western criticism, however, Beijing insists that the new law does not pose a threat to Hong Kong's autonomy and the interests of foreign investors, noting that it is merely meant to prevent terrorism and foreign interference there, which were evident in violent, Western-backed protest rallies and riots there against the government last year.

Raab further claimed on Tuesday that the security law was in breach of the "one country, two systems" principle enshrined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and was also in violation of Article 23 of China's own basic law.

The British diplomat went on to threaten that if Beijing kept the security law in place, London would form an alliance of countries to resist China, whose 14-trillion-dollar economy overshadows every Western economy except the US, which has a 21.4-trillion-dollar economy.

UK 'to change immigration rules if China keeps security law'

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that his country was ready to revise its immigration rules for the people of Hong Kong if China decided to keep the national security legislation in the city.

"Since the handover in 1997, the key has been the precious concept of 'one country, two systems,' enshrined in Hong Kong's Basic Law and underpinned by the Joint Declaration signed by Britain and China", Johnson wrote in an op-ed article published in the South China Morning Post.

The British prime minister claimed that Beijing's decision with the national security law would "curtail its freedoms and dramatically erode its autonomy."

Under the proposed change, holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports from Hong Kong would be allowed to enter the UK for a renewable period of 12 months and granted further immigration rights, "including the right to work, which could place them on a route to citizenship," according to Johnson.

Nearly 350,000 of the people in Hong Kong currently hold such passports and another 2.5 million would be eligible to apply for them, he said.

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