Downing Street hits back after Chinese ambassador warns UK over 'gross interference' in Hong Kong
Downing Street has hit back at China's comments about Hong Kong
Downing Street has hit out at China's ambassador to the UK after he accused ministers of "gross interference" in Hong Kong.
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming had accused the government of interfering in China's "internal affairs" after it extended visa rights for up to three million Hong Kongers in response to a controversial new national security law.
Boris Johnson announced last week he would push ahead with the plans, which would make it easier for those with British National Overseas (BNO) status to have a "path to citizenship" in the UK.
The move came after widespread condemnation of the security arrangements adopted by Beijing, which granted them new powers to crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in the city-state.
But hitting out at the UK's response, ambassador Xiaoming said ministers kept making "irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs".
"China has never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries, including the UK. And we hope the UK will also abide by this principle," he said at a press conference on Monday.
"The UK side knows well that Hong Kong is no longer under its colonial rule, and that Hong Kong has returned to China, and is now part of China.
"The UK has no sovereignty, jurisdiction or right of supervision over Hong Kong after handover."
He added: "However, the UK government keeps making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs.
"Through its so-called six monthly report on Hong Kong, make unwarranted accusations against the national security law or Hong Kong, as they are.
"And even talks about changing the arrangement for British National Overseas passport holder in Hong Kong.
"This move constitutes a gross interference in China's internal affairs and openly tramples on the basic norms governing international relations."
But responding to the comments, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the move came after China commited a "clear and serious breach" of a joint treaty regarding the governance of Hong Kong.
"As the Prime Minister said, the enactment and imposition of the national security law constitutes a clear and serious breach of the UK-Sino joint declaration," they said.
"It violates Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and is in directly conflict with Hong Kong law."
They added: "We have already set out what we will be providing for BNOs, which is a new route to allow them to enter the UK, granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to work and live in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship.
"We would expect China to understand the importance of adhering to international law."