China accuses Britain of taking sides on Hong Kong protests – The Guardian,

China accuses Britain of taking sides on Hong Kong protests – The Guardian,

The Chinese ambassador to London has accused Britain of being two-faced in its approach toHong Kong– pretending to be even-handed in the face of the violent demonstrations, but in reality supporting the demands of the protesters.

He also said UK politicians, including the foreign affairs select committee, were fanning the flames of unrest by referring to violent demonstrators as pro-democracy protesters.

The ambassador, Liu Xiaoming, at his third press conference on the Hong Kong crisis, said: “We have made our position known to the British side when they have made irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong. I think when the British government criticize Hong Kong police, criticize the Hong Kong government in handling the situation, they are interfering into China’s internal affairs. They look like they are balanced but as a matter of fact they are taking sides. That is our position. ”

He continued: “Some western countries have publicly supported extreme violent offenders, the US House of Representatives adopted the so-called Hong Kong human rights and democracy act to blatantly interfere in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs. ”

He added: “The British government and the foreign affairs committee of the House of Commons published China-related reports making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong. What is worse, certain British politicians even planned to present [an] award to a chief propagandist for Hong Kong independence, ”he said, in a reference to the planned presentation of the Westminster Award for Human Life, Human Rights and Human Dignity to pro -democracy campaigner Joshua Wong.

A new Hong Kong extradition law is proposed, which would allow people to be transferred to mainlandChinafor a variety of crimes . Residents fear it could lead to politically motivated extraditions into China’s much harsher judicial system.

Large public demonstrations start as thousands march in the streets to protest against the extradition bill.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, introduces concessions to the extradition bill, including limiting the scope of extraditable offences, but critics say they are not enough.

The scale of protests continues to increase as more than half a million people take to the streets. Police use rubber bullets and teargas against the biggest protests Hong Kong has seen for decades.

Lam says the proposed extradition law has been postponed indefinitely.

The protests continue as demonstratorsstorm the Legislative Council, destroying pictures, daubing graffiti on the walls and flying the old flag of Hong Kong emblazoned with the British union flag. The protests coincide with the 22 nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the UK back to China.

Armed men in white T-shirts thought to be supporting the Chinese government attack passengers and passers-by in Yuen Long metro station, while nearby police take no action.

44 protesters are charged with rioting, which further antagonises the anti-extradition bill movement.

By now the protest movement has coalesced around five key demands: complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill, withdrawal of the use of the word “riot” in relation to the protests, unconditional release of arrested protesters and charges against them dropped, an independent inquiry into police behavior and the implementation of genuine universal suffrage.

The first charges are brought against protesters forcovering their faces, after authorities bring in new laws banning face masks in order to make it easier to identify or detain protesters.

Chan Tong-kai, the murder suspect whose case prompted the original extradition bill is released from prison, saying that he is willing to surrender himself to Taiwan. The extradition bill is also formally withdrawn, a key demand of protesters.

Chow Tsz-lok, 22, becomesthe first fatality of the protests. Chow, a computer science student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), was found injured in a car park in Tseung Kwan O in Kowloon, where he was believed to have fallen one storey. Protesters had been trying to disrupt a police officer’s wedding, which was being held in the area. A week later a 70 – year-old cleaner who is thought to have been hit by a brick during a clash between protesters and pro-Beijing residents becomes the second person to die.

The Foreign Office in a statement said it was seriously concerned by events, and added it was vital that demonstrators who were injured were able to receive appropriate medical treatment, and “ safe passage is made available to those that wish to leave the area ”.

It called for “an end to the violence and the resumption of meaningful political dialogue ahead of the local elections this weekend”.

The Chinese ambassador also warned that if the protesters overstepped the mark with what he described as their “black terror”, it would be the end of the “two nations, one government system” that marks Hong Kong’s relations with mainland China.

“If the violence continues the future of Hong Kong could be unimaginably dreadful,” he said. Already, “the fragrant harbor is sliding into the abyss of chaos”.

The true agenda of the protesters, he said, was the independence of Hong Kong from the motherland, a demand that would never be met by China.

“The Hong Kong government is trying very hard to put the situation under control,” Liu said. “But if the situation becomes uncontrollable, the central government would certainly not sit on our hands and watch. We have enough resolution and power to end the unrest. ”

Liu was speaking after some of Hong Kong’s worst scenes of violence in in five months of protests, which led the British government to call for restraint on both sides.

China’s senior diplomat said: “For the past five months, the self-labeled peaceful protesters have resorted to senseless beating, smashing and arson. They have carried out premeditated attacks against police officers and a failed assassination of a member of the legislative council. ”This was a reference to thestabbingof Junius Ho, a pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker.

He interrupted the briefing to show a video of violent scenes over the past few months.

The ambassador said it was not yet necessary either to cancel next week’s local elections or to call in the Chinese army, saying the Chinese government still had faith in the leadership of the chief executive.

He said the army was already in Hong Kong. The solution, he repeatedly said, was to punish those responsible for the violence.

Liu accused pro-democracy protesters of creating trouble in front of the Chinese embassy in London last week, painting Hong Kong independence slogans on on both sides of the gate, as well as pushing the territory’s justice minister, Teresa Cheng,to the ground. The Metropolitan police have opened an investigation into the incident.

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