By Greg Torode and Guy Faulconbridge
HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has scolded China for its broadening use of a nationwide safety regulation in Hong Kong, detailing assaults on the town’s vaunted judiciary, civil society teams and international diplomats.
“The erosion of liberty in Hong Kong is an affront to freedom and democracy,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stated in the publication on Tuesday of her authorities’s newest six-monthly report on Hong Kong.
“Just over a yr because the introduction of the nationwide safety regulation, the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities have used the regulation and associated establishments in opposition to 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 different views continues to weaken checks and balances on government energy.”
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The report, which covers occasions as much as June 30, seems to be stronger than earlier ones focusing on the influence of the nationwide safety regulation.
Both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments issued statements condemning the report, with a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in London warning that British “makes an attempt to create bother in Hong Kong or use Hong Kong to comprise China is not going to succeed.
Beijing imposed the regulation on the Asian monetary hub in June 2020 after months of generally violent anti-government protests rocked the town in 2019.
Noting use of the regulation in opposition to some media and journalists, the report charts strain by pro-Beijing media that has compelled 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, nonetheless, she believed British judges may nonetheless “play a optimistic position in supporting this judicial independence.”
British judges have lengthy served among the many international jurists appointed to Hong Kong’s highest court docket, an association designed to keep up confidence in the town’s authorized system that’s seen because the bedrock of its broader social and business freedoms.
Britain handed its former colony again to Chinese rule in 1997 amid ensures that its method of life can be protected beneath a “one nation, two techniques” mannequin.
Truss stated Britain was dedicated to persevering with to observe the state of affairs in Hong Kong, together with talking to a broad vary of politicians.
She expressed concern on the “rising sample of the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities misrepresenting such regular diplomatic contact as international collusion”.
The Hong Kong authorities stated it “strongly opposed the unfounded allegations”, urging Britain to “cease interfering into the interior affairs of China via 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.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in London and Greg Torode in Hong Kong; Editing by Kate Holton and Michael Perry)
Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.