© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A police officer stands guard under China and Hong Kong flags throughout a flag elevating ceremony, per week forward of the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong, China, December 12, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photograph
By Greg Torode and Man Faulconbridge
HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has scolded China for its broadening use of a nationwide safety regulation in Hong Kong, detailing assaults on town’s vaunted judiciary, civil society teams and overseas diplomats.
“The erosion of liberty in Hong Kong is an affront to freedom and democracy,” International Secretary Liz Truss stated within the publication on Tuesday of her authorities’s newest six-monthly report on Hong Kong.
“Simply over a 12 months because the introduction of the nationwide safety regulation, the mainland Chinese language and Hong Kong authorities have used the regulation and associated establishments towards all opposition, free press and civil society in Hong Kong,” Truss stated in a foreword to the report.
“This curbing of area for the free expression of other views continues to weaken checks and balances on govt energy.”
The report, which covers occasions as much as June 30, seems to be stronger than earlier ones concentrating on the impression of the nationwide safety regulation.
Each the Chinese language and Hong Kong governments issued statements condemning the report, with a spokesperson for the Chinese language embassy in London warning that British “makes an attempt to create bother in Hong Kong or use Hong Kong to include China won’t succeed.
Beijing imposed the regulation on the Asian monetary hub in June 2020 after months of typically violent anti-government protests rocked town in 2019.
Noting use of the regulation towards some media and journalists, the report charts strain by pro-Beijing media that has pressured commerce unions and different teams to disband.
Outlining criticism from some mainland officers, it states that “judicial independence is more and more finely balanced”.
Truss stated, nevertheless, she believed British judges might nonetheless “play a constructive position in supporting this judicial independence.”
British judges have lengthy served among the many overseas jurists appointed to Hong Kong’s highest courtroom, an association designed to keep up confidence within the metropolis’s authorized system that’s seen because the bedrock of its broader social and industrial freedoms.
Britain handed its former colony again to Chinese language rule in 1997 amid ensures that its lifestyle can be protected below a “one nation, two methods” mannequin.
Truss stated Britain was dedicated to persevering with to watch the state of affairs in Hong Kong, together with chatting with a broad vary of politicians.
She expressed concern on the “rising sample of the mainland Chinese language and Hong Kong authorities misrepresenting such regular diplomatic contact as overseas collusion”.
The Hong Kong authorities stated it “strongly opposed the unfounded allegations”, urging Britain to “cease interfering into the inner affairs of China by Hong Kong affairs”.
It additionally stated it opposed the report’s criticism of the federal government’s overhaul of the electoral system. Hong Kong is because of vote for a brand new Legislative Council this weekend, with many opposition figures in jail or exile and solely these classed as “patriots” allowed to run.
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