China strongly condemns UK for unwarranted accusations against alleged spies linked to HKSAR
Published: May 14, 2024 08:15 AM
Hong Kong photo: VCG

Hong Kong photo: VCG

China's central government and the local authorities in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) strongly condemned the UK late Monday for its "malicious fabrication" and "unwarranted accusations" after three men were charged with "assisting Hong Kong's foreign intelligence service in Britain."

Chung Biu Yuen, 63, Chi Leung Wai, also known as Peter Wai, 38, and Matthew Trickett, 37, were arrested earlier this month following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, according to Reuters.

Each of the trio was charged with two offenses under Britain's National Security Act, which was passed last year and introduced new measures to target threats from foreign states, the media report stated.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Yuen is a retired Hong Kong police officer who is listed as an office manager at the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office in London. Wai works at Heathrow Airport for the UK Border Force, which oversees immigration and customs controls, and is listed online as the founder of a consulting firm called D5 Security. Trickett, a British national, advertises himself on LinkedIn as a security specialist and previously served as a Royal Marines Commando, according to the WSJ.

The Chinese side firmly rejects and strongly condemns the UK's fabrication of the so-called case and its unwarranted accusations against the HKSAR government. It has made serious representations to the UK side on the matter, the Chinese Embassy in the UK stated in a statement late Monday.

For some time now, the UK has leveled a series of accusations against China, including those regarding "China spies" and cyber attacks. All these accusations are groundless and slanderous, the statement noted.

The British side has also wantonly harassed, arrested, and detained Chinese citizens in the UK under the pretext of judicial and national security. This constitutes a grave provocation against China and severely contravenes the basic norms governing international relations, the embassy said.

The embassy urged the UK to immediately correct its wrongdoing, stop spreading the so-called "China threat theory," end all forms of political manipulation against China, and ensure all the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the UK.

The duties of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London are to maintain close liaison with interlocutors in local government, business, think tanks, and various sectors, with a view to enriching bilateral ties in different areas such as trade, investment, arts and culture, enhancing local people's and enterprises' knowledge of Hong Kong's unique strengths, and promoting the economic and trade interests of Hong Kong, the HKSAR government stated on Monday night.

The HKSAR government has seriously demanded that the UK side handle the matter fairly, effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office's office manager who was alleged to be involved, and ensure that the normal work of the Economic and Trade Office is not affected.

The British National Security Act has been widely criticized for its vague definitions and broad authorization of law enforcement agencies, the Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in the HKSAR said in a statement on Monday night.

Under the pretext of national security, the British side has ignored basic human rights and made arbitrary arrests and detentions, which is not only against the spirit of the rule of law but also constitutes naked political manipulation. The UK's sinister intention of interfering in Hong Kong affairs and colluding with anti-China elements is laid bare, the commissioner's office stated.

It also urged the UK to cease and desist, immediately correct its wrongdoings, stop any slander against Chinese citizens based on the presumption of guilt, and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs, warning that otherwise the Chinese side will take resolute countermeasures. 

In response to the UK’s unwarranted accusations against alleged spies linked to the HKSAR, the HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee said on Tuesday that such unreasonable accusations are unacceptable. 

The HKSAR government has requested the UK to handle the matter in a fair manner to ensure that the relevant personnel are protected and that the operations of the economic and trade offices are not affected, Lee told a press briefing on Tuesday. 

The daily work of the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office in London involves communicating with local individuals to promote Hong Kong's trade, culture, and strengths, thereby enhancing the understanding of Hong Kong's business opportunities among various local groups in the UK, Lee noted. 

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices established abroad by the HKSAR government strive to fulfill their duties, and any interference with the work of these offices is a violation of the principles of free trade and a free economy. “If a country attempts to interfere with the operations of these offices, it will ultimately harm the local economy,” he said. 

Furthermore, the HKSAR government will protect the legitimate rights and interests of each Economic and Trade Office and urges all governments to respect the rights of the officials from the HKSAR's Economic and Trade Offices, Lee stressed. 

When asked about the arrested office staff member allegedly being his classmate, Lee said that if this question arises from a photo circulating online, which is a graduation photo and he is one of the individuals in it and his impression of the person in question is solely based on that photo.

Global Times