The violence earlier this week in Hong Kong, when mostly young protestors stormed and vandalised the Legislative Council building, has not only created an extraordinarily dangerous situation in the former colony, it has also precipitated a nasty new spat between the UK and China.
For the third day in a row, the foreign secretary has warned China of “serious consequences” if it fails to respect Hong Kong’s autonomy, while Beijing has told the UK, in escalating tones of irritation, not to interfere in Chinese internal affairs.
Now, of course, there are several reasons why the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, might want to talk tough to China just now, and only one – an entirely justified fear that disorder in Hong Kong could provoke direct intervention by Beijing, with all the risks that would entail for Hong Kongers – relates directly to what happened in the former colony on Monday.
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