HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s foreign ministry in Hong Kong slammed a six month report on the financial hub by Britain, saying it ignored “good” societal conditions, a more stable business environment and instead supported “anti China” chaos.
The comments came after Britain published its six monthly report on the Chinese controlled hub, from Jan 1 to June 30, which stated that authorities have extended the application of a Beijing imposed national security law “beyond genuine national security concerns”.
Beijing imposed the sweeping law in 2020 after sometimes violent anti-government protests rocked the city in 2019.
While some Western governments have criticised the laws as curbing social and political freedoms in the city, both Chinese and Hong Kong officials have said they were vital to restore stability.
Hong Kong, which returned to China in 1997 from Britain, has had “universal success” in implementing the practise of ‘one country, two systems’, China’s foreign ministry said.
“In recent years the number of people in the UK living in poverty has been increasing…crime rates have hit record highs. What confidence does it have to criticise Hong Kong’s democracy and human rights situation?” the ministry said.
“Plans to disrupt Hong Kong are doomed to fail.”
The British report said that authorities continue to try to use legal routes to suppress the protest anthem ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ while media tycoon Jimmy Lai’s national security trial has been further delayed.
“The UK will always defend universal human rights, including freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly and we will stand up for those who are targeted,” it said.
Lai’s prosecution is “highly politicised”, Britain said, adding that the government continued to press for consular access.
Hong Kong police have also issued arrest warrants and bounties against individuals in the UK and elsewhere, it said adding that Britain would not tolerate attempts to intimidate and silence people in its country.
Hong Kong’s legal and judicial systems are at a critical juncture, the report said, adding that while the city’s courts remain independent they are having to “adjudicate on an opaque national security law that places the authority of the Chief Executive on security matters above that of their own.”
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Michael Perry)