Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has been told to stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs by Beijing after calling for an independent investigation into recent violence in the region.
Mr Raab spoke with Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam and stressed the need for “meaningful political dialogue, and a fully independent investigation into recent events as a way to build trust” in the territory.
The former British colony has been the site of widespread protests in recent months which began with a campaign against a controversial extradition bill and has gone on to include a push for electoral reforms in the Chinese territory.
The Chinese side seriously urges the UK to stop its interference in China's internal affairs
Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said the days where Britain ruled Hong Kong were “long gone”.
She told reporters: “The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of supervision over Hong Kong.
“Affairs of Hong Kong brook no foreign interference.
“It is simply wrong for the British government to directly call Hong Kong’s Chief Executive to exert pressure.
“The Chinese side seriously urges the UK to stop its interference in China’s internal affairs and stop making random and inflammatory accusations on Hong Kong.”
Protesters raised the old British colonial flag in the Hong Kong legislative chamber on the 22nd anniversary of the territory’s return to Chinese rule as part of the protests.
Police used tear gas against activists who had occupied the legislative council building and painted pro-democracy slogans on the walls.
The territory’s leader, Carrie Lam, condemned the “extreme use of violence and vandalism” by protesters.
Speaking about the call between Mr Raab and Ms Lam on Friday, a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “The Foreign Secretary underlined the strength of the relationship between the UK and Hong Kong, noting our support for Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy as provided for in the Joint Declaration and our commitment to the principle of ‘One country, Two systems’.
“The Foreign Secretary condemned violent acts by all sides but emphasised the right to peaceful protest, noting that hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong people had chosen this route to express their views.
“He underlined that the violence should not cloud the lawful actions of the majority.”