Hong Kong calls foreign criticism of crackdown on pro-democracy figures 'irresponsible'

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Hong Kong’s government calls allegations from the US, UK and European parliament ‘totally unfounded’

The Hong Kong government has accused foreign politicians of being ignorant and irresponsible after they criticised its recent crackdown on pro-democracy figures and accused Beijing of “flagrant breaches” of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

While it did not name anyone, the Hong Kong government’s statement on Friday said allegations voiced by “certain officials and politicians” from the US, UK and European Parliament were “totally unfounded and amounted to a serious intervention in Hong Kong’s affairs”.

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World news | The Guardian

The Hong Kong government has accused foreign politicians of being ignorant and irresponsible after they criticised its recent crackdown on pro-democracy figures and accused Beijing of “flagrant breaches” of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

While it did not name anyone, the Hong Kong government’s statement on Friday said allegations voiced by “certain officials and politicians” from the US, UK and European Parliament were “totally unfounded and amounted to a serious intervention in Hong Kong’s affairs”.

“The SAR Government strongly disagreed with the grossly irresponsible remarks and expressed deep regret about them,” it said.

On Thursday the Guardian reported the last British governor to Hong Kong, Chris Patten, had urged the UK government to step in on the deteriorating political situation in Hong Kong. Patten said the Chinese Communist Party had taken advantage of the pandemic to “turn the screws on Hong Kong”.

Last month Beijing’s top organisations in the region, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) and the liaison office, weighed into domestic political arguments, drawing accusations they were acting in contravention to Hong Kong’s mini constitution, the Basic Law.

In response, authorities claimed the law did not apply to those offices, sparking furious condemnation from defenders of Hong Kong’s democracy, as well as from several foreign governments including the US, UK, Australia, and European parliament.

Patten said the two offices’ statements were “a flagrant breach of the joint declaration” – which he helped negotiate - signed by Britain and China when Hong Kong was handed over the the latter in 1997.

In its Friday statement the government maintained the HKMAO and liaison office had “the power and responsibility over the proper and full implementation” of the Basic Law, and it was “clearly legitimate” for them to express concerns about the conduct of Hong Kong legislators.

“Any suggestion that those legitimate remarks by the HKMAO and the [liaison office] amount to interference only illustrates an ignorance of the constitutional order of the HKSAR and its relationship with the Central Authorities.”

On 18 April Hong Kong authorities also arrested more than a dozen senior pro-democracy figures on charges relating to mass protests held last year, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai, veteran activist Lee Cheuk-Yan, and 81-year-old barrister and Hong Kong’s “father of democracy”, Martin Lee QC.

On Friday the government took “great exception” to the widespread condemnation of the arrests, saying any allegation there had been an erosion of Hong Kongers’ freedoms was “unfounded”.

“The SAR Government said it always respects and protects human rights and freedoms,” it said. “However, these rights are not absolute.”

It said Hong Kong’s prosecution and judicial system were independent, objective, and respected.

“We therefore note with abhorrence certain overseas politicians’ request that the HKSAR Government should drop the charges against the arrested individuals. If we were to accede or to be seen to yield to such unreasonable demands, we would not only be unfair and unprofessional but would also act in violation of the spirit of the rule of law – a core value in Hong Kong,”

“The allegation by some that those arrests amounted to an attack on Hong Kong’s freedoms and a breach of the [Basic Law] is absurd and can hardly stand the test of any law-abiding jurisdiction.”


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