Ambassador Liu Xiaoming accused the UK of “gross interference” in its affairs, and reiterated that Hong Kong was part of China.
But British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab dismissed the comments, referring to China’s responsibilities under the 1980s Joint Declaration it signed with the UK.
This agreement stipulates that China must grant certain freedoms for the people of Hong Kong.
But many fear that Beijing’s move to tighten Hong Kong’s national security laws amounts to a curb on these rights and freedoms.
As a result, the UK has relaxed its immigration rules for around three million Hong Kong residents specifically, which could place them on a path to citizenship.
But China has strongly rebuked the move, with Beijing threatening “corresponding measures” as a result.
Liu Xiaoming, China’s UK ambassador, accused the UK of interfering with China’s internal affairs.
In a video statement issued yesterday, Liu said: “These moves [by the UK] constitute a gross interference in China’s internal affairs and openly trample on the basic norms governing international relations.
“The Chinese side has lodged solemn representation to the UK side to express its grave concern and strong opposition.
“I want to emphasise that Hong Kong is a part of China. Hong Kong affairs are China’s internal affairs and brook no external interference.”
However, Dominic Raab told Reuters that the situation was “a matter of trust”, and claimed countries around the world “are asking this question: does China live up to its international obligations?”
Dominic Raab said Beijing’s law amounted to an assault on freedom of speech.
And in a House of Commons session last week, the foreign secretary called China’s new security law “a clear and serious breach” of the joint agreement that China and the UK had signed.
Raab highlighted that the new laws would allow Beijing to take jurisdiction over “certain cases” and to try them in mainland Chinese courts.
This he said, amounted to a violation of two paragraphs in the Joint Declaration, specifically paragraphs 3(3) and (5).
He also blasted the measures as a “flagrant assault” on freedom of speech and of protests for Hong Kong citizens.
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Hong Kong police disperse a protest over the new laws at a shopping mall.
But in yesterday’s statement, Liu highlighted China’s stance on the rules, focusing on their relevance to national security.
He said: “One important task of the National Security Law for HKSAR [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] is to prevent, suppress and punish collusion with a foreign country or with external element to endanger national security.
“No one should underestimate the firm determination of China to safeguard its sovereignty, security, and development interests.
“Attempts to disrupt or obstruct the implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong SAR will be met with the strong opposition of 1.4 billion Chinese people. All these attempts are doomed to failure.”
Hong Kong should have a high degree of autonomy from Beijing under a historic UK-China agreement.
Liu later claimed in a tweet that China still wants a strong relationship with the UK, despite the disagreement between the UK and China over the Hong Kong law.
In a tweet, he wrote: “China wants to be [the] UK’s friend and partner.
“But if you treat China as a hostile country, you would have to bear the consequences. To quote Dr Zbigniew Brzezinski: ‘If we treat China like an enemy, they will become an enemy.’
“It’s up to [the] UK side to decide what they want in the end.”