The UK urged to stop interfering with rule of law in Hong Kong: Chinese FM and SAR government
Published: Jan 11, 2023 07:34 PM
Photo taken on May 5, 2020 shows Jimmy Lai Chee-ying appearing in court on unauthorized assembly charge in Hong Kong, China. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)

Photo taken on May 5, 2020 shows Jimmy Lai Chee-ying appearing in court on unauthorized assembly charge in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), China. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)

The Commissioner's Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Wednesday expressed strong dissatisfaction with and firm opposition to the British Foreign Office officials' meeting with Jimmy Lai Chee-ying's "international legal team" and their comments for interfering in Hong Kong affairs.

The actions of the British side slandered Hong Kong's law-based governance, blatantly undermined the rule of law and judicial independence in Hong Kong and violated the principles of international law and the basic norms of international relations, said the spokesperson of  Commissioner's Office.

Jailed Hong Kong secessionist Jimmy Lai's "international legal team" have asked UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for an urgent meeting ahead of his trial on national security charges later this year, according to a report from the BBC.

Lai, a dual Hong Kong and British citizen, is awaiting trial on national security charges in one of the most high-profile cases brought by Hong Kong authorities against the so-called pro-democracy movement. If convicted he could face life in prison, the Guardian reported.

The UK government has been clear that the Hong Kong authorities must end their targeting of "pro-democracy voices," including Jimmy Lai, according to Sunak's official spokesperson on Tuesday, adding that the British government will always support rights and freedoms and the rule of law, and the Foreign Office has provided support to Jimmy Lai for some time, and the minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has met his legal team today.

Apple Daily, a secessionist tabloid in Hong Kong, issued its final hard copy in late June, 2021. This was seen as a significant event that put an end to an era when foreign proxies and secessionist forces could recklessly meddle in China's internal affairs by cultivating agents, like the paper's founder Jimmy Lai and his media group, who instigated the Hong Kong riots in 2019.

The HKSAR Government on Tuesday expressed its strong opposition to the interference of foreign governments in Jimmy Lai's case and the false accusations and criticism against the Hong Kong government. It stressed that no foreign forces or persons should be allowed to interfere in the judicial process and internal affairs of Hong Kong.

Moreover, the Hong Kong government opposes and condemns any attempt by the "international legal team" and the British government to undermine the rule of law and interfere with the independence of the judiciary in Hong Kong. "We strongly urge relevant parties to respect the spirit of rule of law and immediately stop interfering in the internal affairs of Hong Kong," the government's statement read.

Both the Commissioner's Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong and the HKSAR government have stressed that Hong Kong is a society governed by the rule of law. The Basic Law of Hong Kong and the National Security Law clearly guarantee the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong citizens, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press. 

However, rights and freedoms are not a "shield" for crimes, nor a "talisman" for undermining national security. No one has the privilege of being above the law, let alone praying for external forces to intervene in the territory's judicial independence, officials said.

Global Times