China on Thursday urged the United Kingdom to abandon its illusion of continued colonial influence on Hong Kong and to cease interfering in China's internal affairs.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Wednesday that the arrests of politicians and activists in Hong Kong were "a grievous attack on Hong Kong's rights and freedoms" as protected under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
In response, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a press briefing that the core of the Joint Declaration is the resumption of China's exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, which does not grant Britain the right to interfere in Hong Kong affairs.
"Since the return of Hong Kong, the Chinese government has governed Hong Kong on the basis of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, not the Joint Declaration," said Hua.
Hua said those people were arrested on suspicion of committing crimes including subversion under the national security law in Hong Kong.
"We firmly support Hong Kong police in performing their duties in accordance with laws to safeguard national security and Hong Kong's security and stability," she said.
Hua said that after Hong Kong's return, it is an undeniable fact that Hong Kong residents have enjoyed unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms with the implementation of the principles of "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong," and a high degree of autonomy for the region.
On the contrary, the British government reserved the right not to apply the provisions related to periodic elections to Hong Kong when ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1976. Both the Public Order Ordinance and the Societies Ordinance during British rule imposed draconian restrictions on assembly, procession and association in Hong Kong, according to Hua.
Stressing that Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs, Hua urged the British side to discard its colonial mentality, abandon its hypocrisy and double standards, earnestly respect China's sovereignty, and immediately cease interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form.