Bei­jing claims right to bar peo­ple from Hong Kong

Bangkok Post - - ASIA -

HONG KONG: China said on Thurs­day it had the right to bar peo­ple from Hong Kong, a day af­ter a British ac­tivist was de­nied en­try to the for­mer British colony, and that it had com­plained to Bri­tain af­ter it de­manded an ex­pla­na­tion.

Hong Kong re­turned to Chi­nese rule in 1997 un­der a “one coun­try, two sys­tems” for­mula that prom­ises it a high de­gree of au­ton­omy and free­doms not en­joyed on the main­land.

But crit­ics have ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of bend­ing to the will of Com­mu­nist Party lead­ers in Bei­jing and of a grad­ual wa­ter­ing down of the ter­ri­tory’s free­doms, in­clud­ing free­dom of speech and right to protest.

British For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son said he was “very con­cerned” that Bene­dict Rogers, a co-founder of the Con­ser­va­tive Party’s Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, was de­nied en­try to Hong Kong on Wed­nes­day and de­manded an “ur­gent ex­pla­na­tion” from both Hong Kong and China.

It came a week be­fore a Com­mu­nist Party lead­er­ship meet­ing starts in Bei­jing.

Mr Rogers has been a vo­cal critic of China-ruled Hong Kong’s treat­ment of po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists, in­clud­ing that of jailed stu­dent leader Joshua Wong. He be­lieves the de­ci­sion to bar him was made by Chi­nese of­fi­cials af­ter the Chi­nese Em­bassy in Lon­don had warned him ear­lier that he wouldn’t be al­lowed in.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said the cen­tral gov­ern­ment had a re­spon­si­bil­ity for for­eign mat­ters re­lated to Hong Kong.

“The cen­tral Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion gov­ern­ment han­dle the rel­e­vant is­sue in ac­cor­dance with the law,” Ms Hua said. “Al­low­ing or not al­low­ing peo­ple in is China’s sovereignty.”

When asked about the in­ci­dent on a ra­dio talk show, Hong Kong leader Car­rie Lam agreed.

“Ul­ti­mately, un­der the Ba­sic Law (Hong Kong’s mini-con­sti­tu­tion), the cen­tral gov­ern­ment is re­spon­si­ble for for­eign af­fairs,” Ms Lam said.

China has ad­mit­ted ask­ing a group of British MPs to can­cel a visit to Hong Kong in 2014 dur­ing the mas­sive pro-democ­racy protests, of which Joshua Wong was a leader.

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