The Chinese Communist Party passed Hong Kong security legislation on June 30 allowing them to jail political opponents and pro-democracy protesters for life if they provoke “hatred” of the Chinese government. In response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Minister Dominic Raab issued nearly 3 million Hong Kong residents a “pathway to citizenship” if they hold a British National Overseas passport. The UK Government’s offer enraged Beijing, who have threatened retaliation.
China’s embassy in London issued a grave warning to Downing Street, claiming that offering Hong Kongers a claim to UK citizenship is a “violation of international law”.
The embassy also claimed that the measure interferes with China’s internal affairs.
In a statement posted to the embassy’s website, China urged Britain to “immediately correct its mistakes” or else Beijing would respond strongly.
An embassy spokesman added: “The UK has now, in total disregard of the strong opposition and repeated representations of the Chinese side, offered a route for BNO passport holders to the right of abode and application for citizenship in the UK.”
The embassy spokesman continued to claim Hong Kong as a “special administrative region” of China, and that China is “sovereign” over the territory.
He added: “Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs and brook no external interference in any form.
“The Chinese side urges the UK side to recognise the fact that Hong Kong is part of China, have a right and objective understanding on the National Security Law for Hong Kong SAR, immediately correct its mistakes and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs, in any form.”
The spokesman concluded by saying Britain will “shoot itself in the foot” if it continues to punish China for the new law.
The warning comes after a series of actions undertaken by the UK Government in reaction to the new security law.
On Monday, Mr Raab announced the suspension of Hong Kong’s extradition agreement with the UK, further angering Beijing.
The suspension was issued alongside an arms embargo to the former British colony.
Despite the measures, Mr Raab has stressed that the UK “wants a positive relationship” with China.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to London on Tuesday to discuss further action the UK could take against China.
In a press conference with Mr Raab, Mr Pompeo congratulated the UK for the arms embargo and suspended extradition to Hong Kong
Mr Pompeo said: “We support those sovereign choices, we think well done.”
He added that the world needs to collaborate in order to ensure “that every country – including China – behaves in the international system in ways that are appropriate”.