Date
18 December 2017
Richard Ottaway accuses China of "acting in an overtly confrontational manner". Photo: BBC
Richard Ottaway accuses China of "acting in an overtly confrontational manner". Photo: BBC

Beijing bars British MPs from visiting HK

Beijing has scuttled plans by a group of British members of Parliament to visit Hong Kong.

Richard Ottoway, who chairs the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, accused the Chinese authorities of acting in an “overtly confrontational manner”, BBC News reported.

His committee is examining relations between Britain and its former colony, where pro-democracy protests are demonstrating for elections free from interference by Beijing.

Ottoway said he had been warned that if he and fellow MPs attempted to travel to Hong Kong as part of the inquiry, they would be refused entry.

“The Chinese government are acting in an overtly confrontational manner in refusing us access to do our job,” he said.

Ottaway he would request an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the issue.

He told the BBC the committee intended to explore business, cultural and educational links between Britain and China, as well as the protests.

“We are not China’s enemies. We are friends and partners. We have every intention of going there in a sensible way,” he said.

“The real worry about this is that it sends a signal about the direction of travel that China is going on Hong Kong. Immigration is a devolved matter to the Hong Kong authorities, and it’s not for China to ban them.”

The committee will continue with the probe, he said.

Chinese authorities condemned the committee’s inquiry when it was announced in September.

The Chinese Foreign Affairs Committee charged its British counterpart with carrying out a “highly inappropriate act which constitutes interference in China’s internal affairs”.

But when the parliamentary committee took evidence from Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong, earlier this month, he criticised British politicians for not doing enough to support democracy in the city.

Patten said the terms of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, agreeing the transfer of sovereignty to China and setting out a “one country, two systems” principle of governance, explicitly gave Britain a “legitimate” interest in Hong Kong’s future.

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