China warned Wednesday that the Hong Kong issue is an internal matter and said it will not allow any interference by a foreign power.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei issued the warning after British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met former Hong Kong chief secretary Anson Chan and pro-democracy stalwart Martin Lee in London.
The three discussed the 1986 Sino-British Joint Declaration, according to a statement from Hong Kong 2020, a political group of which Chan is convenor. The treaty paved the way for Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
Clegg affirmed Britain’s commitment to honor the pledge made by former prime minister John Major in 1996 that if China breached the treaty, Britain would mobilize the international community behind an effort to pursue legal and other means, British media reported.
Also, Clegg criticized Prime Minister David Cameron for putting trade with the world’s second largest economy over democracy in Hong Kong.
Chan and Lee, a former legislator, briefed Clegg on China’s reinterpretation of “one country, two systems” in a white paper issued recently by the State Council.
Among other things, the document spells out certain requirements under which Hong Kong could continue to enjoy a high degree of autonomy. It redefines judges and judicial officials as government administrators and therefore subject to patriotic standards.
Clegg said he is aware of the anxiety in Hong Kong caused by the tone and content of the white paper.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times, reported on Tuesday that Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, was astonished to find himself alone among the country’s political leadership in taking the cudgels for Hong Kong.
The Conservative leadership under Cameron has become so deferential in their attitude to China that it will not give these assurances themselves, the report said.
On Wednesday, Lee complained to a British foreign affairs committee that the British consul general to Hong Kong and Macau, Caroline Wilson, remains silent over the white paper while the United States government has stood behind Hong Kong, Apple Daily reported Thursday.
Chan urged the British government not to sacrifice its legal and moral responsibility to Hong Kong for the the sake of trade with China.
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