Hong Kong authorities on Friday (May 26) condemned a call by the British government for the removal of a Chinese-imposed national security law that Britain said had been used to persecute, “silence and discredit” leading figures. of the opposition in favor of democracy.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly wrote in his government’s latest semi-annual report on Hong Kong that he had highlighted at a UN hearing in February how Hong Kong authorities had used the security law to crack down on opposition figures, many of whom are in jail or have been forced into exile.
He smartly urged Beijing to carry out the recommendations made in an independent UN Human Rights Council report last July, including the “removal of the National Security Law” that Beijing imposed on the former British colony in 2020.
Hong Kong authorities said in a statement that they “vehemently reject, strongly disapprove and firmly reject defamatory comments and malicious political attacks.”
A Hong Kong government spokesman said Britain should “stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which are purely China’s internal affairs.”
The spokesperson said Hong Kong’s security law brought stability after the massive pro-democracy protests in 2019 and that while Hong Kong’s laws guarantee certain individual rights, “those rights and freedoms are not absolute” when it is about safeguarding national security.
Britain referred in its report to the erosion of Hong Kong’s rule of law, including the transfer of “powers once granted by the judiciary” to Hong Kong’s pro-China leader, and the incapacitation of those facing security charges. national authority to challenge government decisions in court.
“We have stood in solidarity with our partners in condemning the continued erosion of Hong Kong’s civil and political rights and autonomy,” Cleverly wrote in the report’s foreword.
Among those who have been persecuted, Cleverly pointed to jailed media mogul Jimmy Lai, who faces a national security trial in September, and said he had raised Lai’s case with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng earlier this month.
Lai, 75, founded the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, which police raided and closed in 2021.
Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997 under a deal that guaranteed its freedoms for at least 50 years.
While relations between London and Beijing have been tense since Beijing imposed the national security law, a senior British official visited Hong Kong this month, the first such visit in five years.
Category: Hong Kong