UK urged to stay away from Hong Kong affairs

By Chen Qingqing and Yang Sheng in Hong Kong, Li Ruohan in Beijing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/5 21:48:40

Hunt’s remarks on Hong Kong naïve, irresponsible: analyst

A local resident takes photos of the LegCo building in Hong Kong which radical protesters stormed into Monday night. Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

Citizens and legislators in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Friday urged the UK to stop interfering in China's domestic affairs, as the city recovers from the scars after its legislative body was stormed by a group of radical protesters earlier this week. 

Victor Chan, 33, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Young Commentators, told the Global Times that "I hope the UK can fulfill its promise in the Sino-British Joint Declaration to stay away from interfering in Hong Kong affairs."

"The UK should abandon its old mentality as a post-colonial power that is reluctant to let go of its previous colony, and respect China's sovereignty over Hong Kong," he said. 

Global Times reporters felt a similar mood when visiting legislators and talking to residents in the city, who said that they are particularly fed up with the comments from British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. 

In response to accusations he had sided with the protesters, Hunt told the BBC on Thursday that "I was not supporting the violence. What I was saying is the way to deal with that violence is not by repression."

Hunt previously urged authorities in Hong Kong not to use protests as a pretext for repression, the BBC reported Tuesday. He said he understands the root causes of what happened as people in Hong Kong are concerned that their basic freedoms are under attack.

The comments were fiercely refuted by Chinese diplomats and officials, who accused Hunt of "colonial-era delusions" and warned that relations had been "damaged" by his comments.

Hung Kam-in, a member of the Kwun Tong District Council in Hong Kong, said "Hunt probably had a daydream when he threatened China over Hong Kong affairs. The UK has neither the legitimacy nor capability to challenge China's sovereignty over Hong Kong."

However, Hunt is indirectly delivering a message to a group of people in Hong Kong who violently ruined the Legislative Council (LegCo) by releasing tough words to China, Hung said. "Hunt's remarks sound like he is telling those radical protesters that the UK will stand with them and encourage their vandalism."

Some local residents in Hong Kong are also furious about the UK official's comments on the violent protest and the British stance on the issue. A Hong Kong resident surnamed Chan told the Global Times on Friday that Hong Kong-related issues are purely internal affairs and that the UK and the US have no right to intervene. 

"We oppose this intervention," he said. 

Also on Thursday afternoon, a middle-aged Hong Kong woman harshly criticized a group of supporters of radical protesters who vandalized the Hong Kong Legislative Counci, particularly after some of them raised the British colonial flag inside the LegCo Monday night.  

"I'm Chinese, and I'm proud of being Chinese, if you don't commit to your Chinese citizenship, then get out," the woman told supporters of the violent protesters.    

Protesters hold banners that read "Protect peace of society and dignity of law enforcement officials" in front of the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Real intention 

While some legislators believe that the radical young protesters were trained with the help of external forces, Hunt's warning shot on Hong Kong affairs reflects his real intention.  

"It's hard to say if the UK really cares about Hong Kong, or if Hunt just made those comments to further his political ambitions as one who is vying to be UK prime minister," Hon Ho Kai-ming, a legislative council member of Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Friday.  

Hunt "prefers to inflate his Tory leadership chances than face the truth about Britain's lack of influence in Hong Kong," said Simon Jenkins, a columnist of the UK-based news site on Thursday, in an opinion piece titled "Someone, please tell Jeremy Hunt: Britain no longer rules the waves."

Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times on Friday that the UK's Brexit dilemma has turned the country's democracy into a "farce and joke," and there's no need for China to take the British politician's irresponsible remarks seriously.

"It is a pity that some British politicians are targeting China for their power-seeking games," Zhao noted.

In Hunt's case, the comments showed his political immaturity and lack of knowledge in trade and economic relations between China and the UK, said Zhao. 

It's "naive and irresponsible" for Hunt to criticize China when Brexit is coming, as the UK should pay more attention to markets outside the European Union, and Hunt's comments on Hong Kong are "harmful" to China-UK trade and economic activities, said Zhao.

While Hunt said China could "face serious consequences" over its treatment of protesters in Hong Kong, British media seems to be more mature and realistic, pointing out that the UK would suffer greatly from deteriorating relations with China. 

"The UK now potentially needs China more than it seems China needs the UK," Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese Studies at King's College London, was quoted as saying by British news outlet Telegraph.

China was only 15th on the list of Britain's trading partners 20 years ago. Today it is fourth, accounting for 7.5 percent of all UK trade - a five-fold increase, Telegraph said in a report titled "Jeremy Hunt's China crisis could be bad news for British exports."

The UK remains the top European destination for foreign direct investment from China, and China has surged from the 40th to the seventh-biggest export market for UK businesses since 1998, the Telegraph reported.

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