Hong Kong: China accuses UK of ‘gross interference’ over citizenship offer

‘If you want to make China a hostile country, you will have to bear the consequences,’ ambassador warns

Hong Kong: What is happening in the Asian economic hub?

China has accused the UK of “gross interference” in internal affairs over Britain’s citizenship offer to some Hong Kongers following the passing of the controversial security law.

Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese ambassador to the UK, used a press conference on Monday to defend the legislation that clamps down on liberties as necessary to “prevent, suppress and punish collusion with a foreign country”.

He accused the UK government of “political manipulation” over offering some three million residents with British National Overseas (BNO) passports the right to settle in the UK and ultimately apply for citizenship.

“The UK government keeps making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs,” he said.

“The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of supervision over Hong Kong after handover.”

Boris Johnson pledged the move last week after deciding China had committed a “clear and serious breach” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration that aimed to smooth the transition when the territory was handed back to China in 1997.

It follows the imposition by Beijing of a so-called national security law that has already seen pro-democracy books removed from libraries in the city.

Mr Liu also accused some British politicians of portraying China as a “threat” or a “hostile country” when discussing Huawei’s role in the 5G network.

“We want to be your friend, we want to be your partner, but if you want to make China a hostile country you have to bear the consequences,” he warned.

But he declined to spell out how Beijing will retaliate after the nation said it reserves “the right to take corresponding measures”.

Instead, he said “we have to wait and see” exactly how Britain moves forward.

A man is detained by riot police during a demonstration against the new law (Getty Images)

“Our first response is we criticise the British move, we don’t think they’ve honoured their commitment,” he said.

“Secondly, we think it’s an interference into China’s internal affairs. I think this is a political manipulation against this national security law.”

He argued the legislation was needed to safeguard Hong Kong from “external elements” amid sustained pro-independence protests in the city.

“Attempts to disrupt or obstruct the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong SAR (special administrative region) will be met with the strong opposition of 1.4 billion Chinese people,” Mr Liu said.

“All these attempts are doomed to failure.”

Protesters display blank sheets of white paper during a protest over freedom of speech in a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Monday

Downing Street later urged China not to interfere if British National (Overseas) passport holders sought to come to the UK.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We would expect China to understand the importance of adhering to international law.”

The UK is also reviewing extradition arrangements with Hong Kong.

“We are currently assessing the national security law and its legal ramifications in terms of extradition with Hong Kong,” the spokesman said.

“There are already extensive extradition safeguards in the UK. The courts are required to bar a person’s extradition to any country if it would be incompatible with their human rights or if the request appears to be motivated by their political opinion.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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