The United Kingdom has expressed concern over an incident involving a British human rights activist who was denied entry to Hong Kong, but China rejected its demand for an official explanation.
Benedict Rogers, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party’s human rights commission, was refused entry after he arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday morning from Bangkok. He was forced to travel back to Thailand later the same day.
While immigration officials at the Hong Kong airport did not give any explanation, it was suspected that his denial of entry might have something to do with his support for three jailed Hong Kong activists – Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Alex Chow Yong-kang, and Nathan Law Kwun-chung – and his intention to visit them during the trip, although he denied he planned to do that.
In an article he wrote in The Guardian, Rogers said he just came to Hong Kong for a personal visit and was not representing his party or the British government. He suspects the Hong Kong government was not the one that decided to reject his entry.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement on Thursday that London wanted an urgent explanation from both the Hong Kong authorities and the Chinese government, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
“I am very concerned that a UK national has been denied entry to Hong Kong,” Johnson said.
Calling the incident disturbing and hard to understand for him, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten said Rogers held a valid British passport and met all the conditions to enter Hong Kong as a UK national but was rejected entry without an explanation, adding that he has contacted Rogers and the British consulate-general in Hong Kong to get details.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said foreign diplomacy is the affairs of China, adding the controversy hinges on whether it involves any diplomatic issue.
In response to Johnson’s statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said whether a person can be allowed to enter China’s territory is a matter of sovereignty.
She stressed Hong Kong affairs are a purely internal matter for China and Beijing firmly objects to any interference in China’s internal affairs by any country in any form, adding that it is Rogers himself who can tell whether he comes with the intention of interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and judicial independence.
She also said Beijing has complained about the demand for an explanation to the British government.
In a radio interview on Thursday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said each place has discretion on matters regarding immigration.
She also pointed out that British politicians should not accuse Hong Kong courts of not being independent, especially considering that the Court of Final Appeal has at least eight justices who are from Britain.
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