British secretaries are accusing Beijing of responding strongly to the recent protests occurring in Hong Kong. British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Jeremy Hunt, has stated that not supporting the 1984 Sino/British declaration will have important consequences for both the United Kingdom and China. Boris Johnson, Mr. Hunt’s predecessor as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, also gave his opinion on the complicated debate regarding Hong Kong.
He urged China to commit to the “one country, two systems” principle that was decided and signed upon back in 1984. “The people of Hong Kong,” he continued, “are perfectly within their rights to be very sceptical, very anxious about proposals for extradition to the main land that could be politically motivated, that could be arbitrary and could infringe their human rights.”
The Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Liu Xiaoming, remarked that the relationship between China and Hong Kong has worsened due to interference from the UK. “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.
He urged Britain to “seriously reflect on the consequences of its words and deeds” with regards to Hong Kong, and warned that further interferences would lead to consequences.
British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted that “It is vital that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms set down in the Sino-British Joint Declaration are respected.”
The declaration, which was signed by Margaret Thatcher and China’s Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang in 1984, promised that the state of Hong Kong would be given back to China in 1997, but retain a higher level of autonomy as a capitalist country, with freedom and rights which are best described under the one country, two systems manor of organisation.
Recent protests in Hong Kong attracted up to two million people marching to oppose a proposed law that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China.
The Hong Kong government later suspended the bill, but the population of the Special Administrative Region continued the protests. On Chinese State Television, CCTV, China condemned the protests, likening them to the “colour revolutions” in countries in the former Soviet Union and the Balkans that took place in the early 2000s.
“Around the world, areas that have experienced the ‘colour revolution’ were all ruined and left in tatters,” CCTV said in a broadcasted commentary. “Not only did the so-called democratic reforms fail, they often turned into political chaos and bloodshed, and the destruction and ruins that they left could not be repaired for a long time.
Hong Kong people should take note of these lessons – in flesh and blood.
Other journalists and historians, including Long Jing, a Europe specialist from the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, have argued that “British officials have always been very pragmatic and flexible in their approach” to the situation.