China hits out at Australia, US, UK and Canada for ‘grossly’ interfering with Hong Kong’s ‘internal affairs’
China has condemned Australia, the US, the UK and Canada for speaking out over the arrest of Hong Kong democracy activists, saying those nations have grossly interfered in internal affairs.
- China says countries including Australia should respect China’s sovereignty and Hong Kong’s legal system
- 55 people who were recently arrested under the national security law have not been charged and most have been released from custody on bail
- The joint statement issued by Australia, the US, UK and Canada accuses China of using the law to silence political opposition
The foreign ministers of those countries on Sunday issued a joint statement expressing “serious concern” about the arrest of the 55 people in Hong Kong last week.
The arrests were by far the largest such action taken under a national security law that China imposed on the semi-autonomous territory just over six months ago.
The Chinese and Hong Kong governments said the law was needed to restore order in a city that was rocked in 2019 by months of often violent anti-Government protests demanding greater democracy.
At a daily news briefing on Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian defended the country’s governance of Hong Kong.
“The Chinese Government governs Hong Kong on the basis of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR, not the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” he said.
“China strongly condemns and firmly opposes the relevant countries confusing right and wrong and grossly interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and China’s internal affairs.”
China alleges plot to oust Hong Kong leader
Most of those arrested last week had taken part in an unofficial primary for a legislative election that was later postponed.
Authorities allege the primary was part of a plot to take control of the legislature in order to paralyse the Government and force the city’s leader to resign.
The 55 have not been charged, and all but three have been released on bail pending further investigation.
If any were to wind up with convictions, that could disqualify them from running in future elections.
“It is clear that the national security law is being used to eliminate dissent and opposing political views,” the joint statement by the foreign ministers of Australia, the US, UK and Canada read.
“We call on the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong without fear of arrest and detention.”
The statement was signed by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne along with her counterparts Francois-Philippe Champagne of Canada, Dominic Raab of the UK and Mike Pompeo of the US.