(TibetanReview.net, Oct13, 2017) – In a direct assault on the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement under which it had resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, China has claimed the right to bar people from visiting the supposedly special administrative region. China’s assertion of this claim came a day after a British activist was denied entry into the former British colony, reported Reuters Oct 12.
The report cited British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson as saying 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 Oct 11 and demanded an “urgent explanation” from Hong Kong and China.
But China has hit back, with its Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying, “Allowing or not allowing people in is China’s sovereignty … Hong Kong affairs are a purely internal matter for China.”
She has said China had lodged a solemn representation with Britain, meaning an official complaint.
China apparently feared that the UK ruling Conservative Party human rights activist would visit three jailed democracy activists in the former British colony, reported rfa.org Oct 11. Rogers has been a vocal critic of China-ruled Hong Kong’s treatment of political activists, including that of jailed student leader Joshua Wong, said the Reuters report.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Ms Carrie Lam, elected by a pro-China interest group to the post, has justified China’s claim, rather than defending the island’s autonomy and freedom.
“If you say everything falls under Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy, this is not what the Basic Law says,” she was quoted as saying when asked about the incident on a radio talk show.
But Anson Chan, former head of Hong Kong’s civil service turned pro-democracy activist, has said the case had raised questions over the promise of autonomy.
In this connection the report pointed out that Article 154 of the Basic Law said Hong Kong “may apply immigration controls on entry” of foreigners into Hong Kong.
Under the handover deal, China promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy and democratic freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland for the next 50 years. However, there has been a gradual watering down of the territory’s freedoms, including freedom of speech and right to protest, especially over the past several years.