Beijing claims right to bar people from Hong Kong
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.