Asia Minute: Diplomatic Dispute About A Former British Colony

Jul 4, 2019

Hong Kong at night
Credit Base64, retouched by CarolSpears / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

As the United States celebrates Independence Day today, a focus remains on a developing situation in another former British colony: Hong Kong. Large demonstrations began less than a month ago, some became violent earlier this week, and now there are warnings coming from Beijing.

 


When it comes to Hong Kong, the government of mainland China is angry.

Part of the anger is directed at protestors who broke into and trampled through Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Monday — the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule.  The South China Morning Post reports local authorities are analyzing DNA evidence and fingerprints to track down suspects.

That violence was a departure from recent protests that have mostly taken the form of peaceful marches and street demonstrations.

The target: a proposed extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong citizens to potentially be sent to China to face criminal charges. Hong Kong’s government has since shelved the bill.

Chinese officials are also furious with the British government, and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is also campaigning to be Prime Minister. Hunt promised UK support for freedom in Hong Kong — posting on social media that “no violence is acceptable but Hong Kong people must preserve right to peaceful protest…”

On Wednesday, the Chinese ambassador to the UK held a news conference in London, blasting what he called “inappropriate remarks” and “gross interference” in the “internal affairs of Hong Kong.”

The UK Foreign Office then said the ambassador’s remarks were “totally unacceptable.”

For his part, China’s ambassador said it was “hypocritical” for the UK government to criticize a lack of democracy in Hong Kong when there were no elections there in more than 150 years of British rule.