China objects to Hong Kong probe

When Britain handed over responsibility for Hong Kong, the deal included guarantees of freedoms for the population

When Britain handed over responsibility for Hong Kong, the deal included guarantees of freedoms for the population

First published in National News © by

The Chinese authorities have lodged a strongly-worded protest about MPs looking into tensions in Hong Kong.

The Foreign Affairs Committee at Westminster has been sent a letter from its Beijing counterpart after announcing plans to probe the former British territory's progress since handover three decades ago.

The missive, seen by the BBC's Newsnight, warned that the investigation would be a "highly inappropriate act which constitutes interference in China's internal affairs".

The move would send "a wrong political signal to the outside world, and disrupted Hong Kong's political reform".

It would also "have a negative impact on the relations between our countries", according to the letter.

"Bear in mind the larger picture of China-UK relations and Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs and cancel the inquiry on UK-Hong Kong relations," the committee said.

The deal that saw Britain hand over responsibility for Hong Kong included guarantees of autonomy and freedoms for the population.

The Foreign Secretary reports twice a year to Parliament on the situation in the region.

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Sir Richard Ottaway, said he thought the Chinese might have "misunderstood" the role of a Commons select committee.

"My job and the Foreign Affairs Select Committee's job is to look at whether Britain has complied with its undertakings, and if China has not complied with its obligations," he told the programme.

"I think this is a right and proper procedure. I don't particularly want to irritate the Chinese. I want them to understand the procedure.

"It may well be that my committee will decide that actually the Chinese have behaved perfectly reasonably."

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