LONDON (AP) — The U.K. government summoned China’s ambassador for a dressing-down on Wednesday after Beijing officials accused Britain of meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.
The Foreign Office said Ambassador Liu Xiaoming was called to a meeting with British diplomatic service chief Simon McDonald over “unacceptable and inaccurate” comments relating to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.
Liu accused British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt of interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs and supporting “violent lawbreakers.”
At a news conference in London, he said that “the fundamental principle guiding our two countries is mutual respect, non-interference into internal affairs.”
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said earlier that Hunt was “basking in the faded glory of British colonialism and obsessed with lecturing others.”
The spat follows huge protests over a controversial extradition law that saw several hundred demonstrators storm the Hong Kong legislature and daub graffiti on the walls. Some raised the old British colonial flag in the legislative chamber on Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the territory’s return to Chinese rule.
Hunt has condemned violence but said people in Hong Kong fear “their basic freedoms are under attack.” He has urged China to respect the 1984 U.K.-Chinese declaration enshrining the “one country, two systems” principle of Hong Kong autonomy.
After the ambassador’s comments, Hunt tweeted: “Message to Chinese govt: good relations between countries are based on mutual respect and honoring the legally binding agreements between them.
“That is the best way to preserve the great relationship between the UK and China.”