While calling for serious reflection on the United Kingdom's recent remarks and actions in relation to Hong Kong, China's ambassador urged Britain at a news conference on Wednesday to stop interfering in China's internal affairs and to refrain from further damaging the Sino-UK relationship.
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming said China had repeatedly made strong representations to the UK on the issue, urging it to both resist the temptation to meddle in China's internal affairs and calling on London to show respect.
He met Britain's permanent under-secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Simon McDonald, after the news conference in China's London embassy and stressed to him that Hong Kong is no longer under British colonial rule and that it is a special administrative region that is part of China.
"It has to be pointed out that, on this very important issue of principle, the UK government chose to stand on the wrong side. It has made inappropriate remarks not only to interfere in the internal affairs of Hong Kong but also to back up the violent lawbreakers," the ambassador said.
This week marks the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR. However, on the day that was meant to be a celebration of that, some "ultra-radicals" stormed the Hong Kong legislative council in an "extremely violent manner", which the UK government and senior officials spoke of in supportive terms.
The ambassador said the violent behavior of the radicals broke the rule of law in Hong Kong, undermined social order, compromised the fundamental interests of Hong Kong, and challenged the bottom line of "one country, two systems".
But China trusts that the Hong Kong SAR government will bring the lawbreakers to justice and Beijing will support the SAR government in restoring public order and maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, as China has been doing since the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.
"We urge the British side to seriously reflect on the consequences of its words and deeds and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs in whatever forms," Liu said, while adding that Hong Kong's affairs are purely China's internal affairs and require no interference from any country, organization, or individual.
He said he hopes Hong Kong will continue to be a positive factor in the two nations' relationship.
The ambassador also criticized remarks made by the UK's foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who spoke in the media and commented on social media on the issue. Hunt referred to the Joint Declaration, which was signed in 1984 and which completed its mission as a transitional document during the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.
"It's totally wrong for Jeremy Hunt to talk about freedom," Liu said. "This is not a matter about freedom. It's a matter about breaking laws in Hong Kong. We all remember what Hong Kong was 22 years ago, under the British rule. There was no freedom or democracy."
Liu said the Joint Declaration that was signed by the Chinese government was a promise to the world. China's commitment to the "one country, two systems" arrangement is unwavering, he said, and Hong Kong's basic system will remain unchanged for 50 years after 1997. But the declaration itselfhas "completed its mission",he explained and was spent when Britain returned Hong Kong to China and China resumed its sovereignty. He said Britain now has "no right to claim" from the document.
"We certainly hope that whoever will be the next British prime minister will follow what is agreed by the two governments, with regard to the relationship, the fundamentals of the relationship, between China and the UK. We should respect sovereignty, territory, integrity, a non-interference of the internal affairs of each other," the ambassador stressed.
Liu has participated in several interviews with British media outlets to say that he was disappointed by some reports by Western media, saying some of them were "severely prejudiced".
Liu said around 800,000 people signed up to support proposed legislation in Hong Kong that the demonstrators opposed but that the opinion of the 800,000 was ignored in many media reports, as was the Hong Kong government's receipt of more than 3,000 letters in support of the amendment.
"But this, we cannot get a single glimpse of in any media here," he said. "So, it's very unbalanced, it's not convincing. I do hope that the British media do justice to the British readers and present a balanced picture.If you take a deep breath, reflect on what will be the consequences, if those lawbreakers have their way. Hong Kong will be plunged into a lawless society. Will it serve the interests of the region? Will it serve the interests of stability, prosperity? Will that serve the interests of 300,000 (British) citizens in HK? The answer is definitely no."