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Britain Criticizes ‘Eroding Freedoms’ In Hong Kong, Prompting China’s Rebuke



(CTN NEWS) – BEIJING – Britain criticized the Chinese government on Thursday for what it claimed was a deliberate deterioration of liberties in Hong Kong and a crackdown on free expression by authorities in the former British territory. China responded angrily to Britain’s criticism.

The criticism was included in the government’s most recent semi-annual report on Hong Kong, which was presented to parliament in writing.

The Chinese embassy in Britain expressed “serious dissatisfaction” with the report and claimed it “distorted facts.” According to an embassy official, the embassy made “stern” comments to the British government.

In the book’s prologue, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly stated that Beijing was “systematically eroding freedoms on various fronts, increasing the constraints on the lives of ordinary Hong Kongers.” The report covered the first half of 2022.

A flag-raising team from a primary school performs after the first national flag-raising competition in Hong Kong, China September 4, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

“Free speech, the free press, and unrestricted assembly are still severely restricted by the authorities. Most independent news outlets have been forced to close, and people and civil society organizations are self-censoring.”

In 1997, Hong Kong was granted a great degree of autonomy, including freedom of speech, as part of the “one country, two systems” formula when it was transferred from British to Chinese sovereignty.

The spokeswoman for the Chinese embassy stated, “Hong Kong has long been returned to China, and Hong Kong affairs are solely Chinese internal concerns that allow no international meddling.”

James Cleverly

“We kindly request that the UK side acknowledge the fact and significant trend, eliminate the colonial mindset, and respect China’s sovereignty and unification.”

In response to British claims that China was breaking the terms of the handover deal, China has previously charged that Britain is behaving in a colonial manner.

Beijing enacted a national security law in June 2020 that may result in life in jail as a punishment for acts of terrorism, cooperation with foreign forces, subversion, and secession.

British authorities have regularly criticized that legislation. Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong dispute the accusation that they are using it to quell dissent, which critics make.

A man checks his phone at a promenade during sunset in Hong Kong, China October 12, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

According to the spokeswoman for the Chinese embassy, the law has helped Hong Kong “enter a new stage in which it has restored order and is destined to grow.”

After a British minister met with Jimmy Lai’s legal team, a detained pro-democracy Hong Kong tycoon and the creator of the now-closed pro-democracy publication Apple Daily.

Hong Kong and Chinese authorities earlier this week stated their vehement disapproval.

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