China and UK clash over fate of Hong Kongers
HONG KONG, (AFP):- China promised Thursday to take countermeasures against Britain if it presses ahead with plans to extend citizenship rights to Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed a sweeping security law on the restless financial hub.
Beijing has faced a groundswell of criticism from primarily Western nations over its decision to impose a new law outlawing acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces.
Adding to concerns, Hong Kong’s influential Bar Association published a new legal analysis warning that the wording of the law — which was kept secret until Tuesday — undermines the city’s independent judiciary and stifles freedoms.
Britain has said the law breaches China’s pre-handover “One Country, Two Systems” promise to grant residents key liberties — as well as judicial and legislative autonomy — until 2047.
It has responded by announcing plans to allow millions of Hong Kongers with British National Overseas status to relocate with their families and eventually apply for citizenship.
“We will live up to our promises to them,” foreign secretary Dominic Raab told parliament.
That move has infuriated Beijing, which says Britain promised not to grant full citizenship rights to Hong Kongers ahead of the 1997 handover.
“If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law and basic norms governing international relations,” China’s embassy in London said Thursday.