• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 1:56pm
Universal Suffrage
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China warns Britain that ties are at risk if UK parliamentary inquiry continues

National People's Congress says ties may be at risk if UK parliamentary probe continues

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2014, 11:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 November, 2014, 3:31pm

The National People's Congress has written to British lawmakers telling them ties between the two nations are at risk unless they stay out of Hong Kong's affairs.

The foreign ministry in Beijing confirmed the warning yesterday, as the lawmaker heading a British inquiry on Hong Kong said the central government may have breached the terms of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration when it set rules for democratic elections in 2017.

As far as sanctions are concerned, we are in a fairly weak position

But the lawmaker, Richard Ottaway, admitted Britain was in a "weak" position when it came to admonishing China for a breach of the deal that settled Hong Kong's future and paved the way for the 1997 handover.

The debate arose after the NPC Standing Committee set a framework for political reform under which only two or three candidates could run in the first one-man, one-vote election for chief executive in 2017. They would need support from half of the members of a nominating committee expected to be dominated by Beijing loyalists.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing that the NPC's Foreign Affairs Committee had written the letter, while ambassador to London Liu Xiaoming also conveyed China's views to the lawmakers.

"Issues concerning the political reform of Hong Kong fall into China's domestic affairs, which allow no interference from the outside," he said. "It is justifiable for the Chinese side to express its solemn position on this issue."

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Ottaway, announced an inquiry into Britain's relations with Hong Kong in July. Ottaway confirmed to the Post yesterday that Liu raised objections later that month, and that the letter urging it to drop the probe had followed two weeks ago. The letter advised committee members to "bear in mind the larger picture of China-UK relations".

The lawmakers are examining the implementation of the Joint Declaration, which states that Hong Kong should have a high degree of autonomy and executive power, and that personal rights in the territory must be enshrined by law.

Ottaway said Beijing's ruling on reform appeared to have breached those undertakings."If you have a committee that is not neutral and is nominating a limited number of candidates, there seems to be a prima facie case that the undertakings given have been breached," Ottaway told the BBC.

But he admitted Britain had little leverage with Beijing.

"As far as sanctions are concerned, frankly we are in a fairly weak position. Indeed, we were in a very weak position right from the beginning when this declaration was signed," Ottaway said.

In July, British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Britain would honour its 1984 pledge to "mobilise the international community and pursue every legal and other avenue available" if China breached the deal.

But other members of the British government are eyeing Chinese investors and tourists and attempting to rebuild ties after Prime Minister David Cameron met the Dalai Lama in 2012.



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This article is now closed to comments

China has no bloody business telling other countries to have or not have inquiries.
The trouble with the Communist Party is that they have such a fragile ego that they cannot stand any form of criticism. They use brute force to try to crush any source of criticism.
In a person we would quickly recognize this as a typical trait of a bully who is insecure - having a very poorly developed ego.
In acting like a child in the international arena they are making themselves nothing more than a laughing stock - other countries will not laugh in their face because of their wealth and accompanying power. But trust for sure that they are laughing!
They acquired it through military victory during an era of international relations when this sort of action was the norm. How did China acquire Tibet?
China is so used to bullying their own citizens that they tend to follow a similar pattern in international relationships. The rest of the world must take note of this proclivity and consider carefully the implications for the international order as China continues to tool up militarily.
While China often asserts its rise is and will continue to be peaceful, the inherent nature of the Communist Party is violent. Control through power - is violence. Their nature is irrefutably violent, so violence will inevitably be expressed in their dealings with others. It is an inescapable conclusion.
You gotta love China. They love to beat their chest on the highest mountain but can't handle any form of criticism.
And furthermore, as a signatory to the joint declaration of 1984, the British have a legal responsibility to do just exactly what they propose.
Well this is the 21st century and not the dark ages. Any breach of contract should be investigated. Take it to the UN and let the UN decide. This is what the civilized world is all about. Bring in an internationally recognised and suitable mediator. You can't make progress without a little sacrifice. If you are not going to play by the rules, you need to suffer the consequences.
Unfortunately this is about the ultimate power being enshrined in laws and agreements and if you start breaking those then you have nothing but corruption. This would undermined Hong Kong as an international centre for business and trade. Most HK people are very happy and grateful for what Britain has done for HK and human rights. What do you represent?
China writes a letter telling the British Parliament what they shall not discuss . That's interference into another nation's internal affairs par excellence . It couldn't be any more interference into internal affairs.
Why does China believe they can do what they condemn others to do ?
If you think they are wrong dont just slam the plan slam them. China needs to face up to its doubters and show why it is right. Instead, its adopting a 'you cannot question me' attitude which does not bode well for its status as a big country. Wanna be a super power? Get these things sorted out first.
I wouldn't worry. A few MPs will huff and puff, inflating their chests to pretend the UK still has some influence over these matters. The reality is the UK is powerless. It forfeited its authority, specifically moral authority, when it amended the UK laws to deny all Hong Kong citizens the right of abode in the UK. This removed any leverage and was stark evidence of British thinking. Any inquiry is just for show or maybe to assuage the conscience.



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