The British government has summoned the Chinese ambassador to express its “deep concern” following the expulsion of four opposition MPs from the Hong Kong Parliament on Beijing’s orders.
Kwok Ka-ki, Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok and Kenneth Leung were all accused of endangering national security.
This is the latest move by the government of Boris Johnson, which he says is an attempt by China to silence critical voices about Beijing’s policies, as diplomatic tensions between the two countries continue to rise. The latest incident occurred after China passed a controversial national security law that gives Beijing unprecedented powers over Hong Kong.
The law, which was passed in June, provides for penalties ranging up to life imprisonment for the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collaboration with foreign armed forces.
Human rights activists say the law prevents criticism of China and also undermines Hong Kong’s autonomy, which was agreed when it was returned to China by Britain in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” agreement. Following the expulsion of opposition MPs, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The law prevents criticism of China: “The imposition of new rules by Beijing to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong is a clear violation of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration.
“China has again broken its promises and undermined Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy. The UK will stand up for the people of Hong Kong and challenge violations of their rights and freedoms. Together with our international partners, we will bind China to the commitments it has voluntarily made under international law”.
Relations between China and the UK remain strained after Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered three million Hong Kong residents the opportunity to settle and apply for citizenship in the UK in response to the Security Act, which he believes undermines Hong Kong’s autonomy.
This happened when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions against four other Chinese officials accused of restricting freedoms in Hong Kong. Pompeo announced the measures and tweeted: “Today we are taking action against four Chinese and Hong Kong-based officials in connection with policies and actions that have undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy, undermined the rule of law and suppressed dissent through politically motivated arrests.
China remains one of the few countries in the world that has not called President-elect Joe Biden to congratulate him on his election victory. At the daily press conference of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 9, the spokesman Wang Wenbin was asked whether China had congratulated Biden on his victory.
Wenbin said: “We have noticed that Mr. Biden has declared the election victory. We assume that the result of the presidential election will be determined according to the laws and procedures of the USA”.