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  1. ITV Report

Chinese ambassador summoned over Hong Kong spat as at least 13 protesters are arrested

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson

China's ambassador in London was summoned for a dressing down from the UK's top diplomat over Hong Kong interference comments, as police reveal at least 13 protesters have been arrested.

The Foreign Office and Beijing have been involved in a spat following a call from Jeremy Hunt not to use the protests in Hong Kong as a "pretext for repression".

China's foreign ministry hit back and ambassador Liu Xiaoming lambasted the UK Government over its approach.

In a reference to Mr Hunt, he said it was "very disappointing" when senior officials "of his calibre" show support of "law-breaking" people.

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for Beijing's ministry of foreign affairs, said Mr Hunt "appeared to be "basking in the faded glory of British colonialism and obsessed with lecturing others".

An FCO source said Mr Liu had been hauled in for a meeting on Wednesday with Foreign Office chief Sir Simon McDonald, the head of the diplomatic service, following the "unacceptable and inaccurate" comments from ministry of foreign affairs.

Afterwards Mr Hunt tweeted a message to the Chinese government: "Good relations between countries are based on mutual respect and honouring the legally binding agreements between them.

"That is the best way to preserve the great relationship between the UK and China."

Jeremy Hunt tweeted a message to the Chinese government. Credit: Twitter

It came as police in Hong Kong revealed 13 people had been arrested for Monday's pro-democracy protests, including one man accused of storming into the legislature building.

The local man surnamed Poon was arrested in Mong Kok for assaulting police, criminal destruction, misconduct in public places and forced entry of the Legislative Council Complex, police said late Wednesday night.

The 12 others - 11 men and one woman - were taken into custody over a "violent incident" that occurred near the Legislative Council Complex and involved assaulting and obstructing police officers.

They said the offences also included possession of offensive weapons, unlawful assembly and failing to carry identification.

Police said six others were arrested for disrupting a public meeting on June 30.

The semi-autonomous Chinese territory has been wracked for weeks by demonstrations that began over an extradition bill that has since been shelved.

Damage to the Legislative Council following a break-in by protesters Credit: Johnson Lai/AP

Pro-democracy protesters rushed police barricades around the time of a morning flag-raising ceremony marking the 22nd anniversary of the return of Hong Kong, a former British colony, to China on July 1 1997.

Police used shields, batons and pepper spray to drive them back.

On Monday afternoon, protesters began what became an hours-long effort to break into the locked legislature building by smashing thick glass walls and prying open metal security curtains.

A few hundred poured in at around 9pm and spray-painted slogans on the walls and caused extensive damage.

The scenes follow unrest in the former colony over a controversial extradition law.

Mr Liu used a press conference to warn that Britain had damaged its relationship with China by interfering in Hong Kong following unrest in the region.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming lambasted the UK Government over its approach. Credit: ITV News

He urged the Government to reflect on the "consequences of its words and deeds" regarding the former British colony.

He said: "I think the relationship in a way has been damaged by the interference of the British Government in Hong Kong because, as I said, the fundamental principles guiding our two countries is mutual respect, non-interference into internal affairs.

"If the British Government go further it will cause further damages, so that is why I'm calling the British Government to reflect the consequences of its words and deeds with regards to Hong Kong."

Graffiti was sprayed on walls by demonstrators Credit: Johnson Lai/AP

Workers boarded up shattered windows on Wednesday and police carted away evidence during the start of what will be a massive clean up and criminal investigation.

The government showed journalists the extent of the damage on a tour of the first two floors of the building.

At almost every turn, slogans had been spray-painted on the walls in Chinese and English.

"Destroy the Chinese Communist Party," read one. "Hong Kong is not China," said another.

Papers, rubbish and umbrellas - a protest symbol in Hong Kong used to ward off sun, rain and pepper spray - were strewn in lobbies and rooms. Parts of wooden picture frames were all that remained of portraits of legislative leaders that hung on the wall.

The actions overshadowed a peaceful march by hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters elsewhere in the city.

No arrests have been announced for the storming of the legislature.

Steve Vickers, a former head of criminal intelligence for the Royal Hong Kong Police, predicted a severe government crackdown that will result in long jail terms.

Journalists were shown the damage caused by protesters Credit: Johnson Lai/AP

“I am personally sympathetic to the great majority of the Hong Kong demonstrators and their motivation, but the hardcore elements and agitators involved are becoming increasingly desperate,” said Mr Vickers, who heads Steve Vickers and Associates, a political and corporate risk consultancy.

“Their actions are counterproductive to many Hong Kong people’s genuine democratic aspirations.”

Also on Wednesday, police said eight people had been arrested for posting personal data about police officers on the internet as massive protests against the government and police were held in recent weeks.

Officers and their family members have been threatened since their addresses and official ID card numbers were published, Superintendent Mohammed Swalikh of the Cyber Security bureau said.