The US and the UK have urged the Chinese and Hong Kong governments, and all elected politicians in Hong Kong, to “refrain from any actions that fuel concerns or undermine confidence in the One Country, Two Systems principle.”

The statements came after the Basic Law interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Monday, which may affect a legal challenge being handled at the Hong Kong High Court concerning the seats of two democratically elected localist lawmakers. Before the ruling was handed down, thousands attended a protest on Sunday against interference from China.

The United States said it was “disappointed” by the recent developments related to the Legislative Council.

Mark Toner. Photo: Screenshot.

Mark Toner, Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department, said at a daily press briefing on Monday: “The United States strongly supports and values Hong Kong’s legislative council and independent judiciary, two institutions that play a critically important role in promoting and protecting the special administrative region’s high degree of autonomy under the Basic Law and the ‘one country, two systems’ framework that have been in place since 1997.”

“We urge the Chinese and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region governments and all elected politicians in Hong Kong to refrain from any actions that fuel concerns or undermine confidence in the ‘one country, two systems’ principle. Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability depends on its successful implementation, as provided for by the Joint Declaration and Basic Law. We believe in an open – that an open society with the highest possible degree of autonomy and governed by the rule of law is essential for Hong Kong’s continued stability and prosperity as a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China.”

Earlier on Monday, Darragh Paradiso, a spokesperson for the US Consulate-General in Hong Kong told HKFP: “It is unfortunate that this particular situation was not resolved within Hong Kong’s Legislative Council or within its well-respected courts.”

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, speaking to FCO staff in London, 14 July 2016. Photo: FCO.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office told HKFP: “We are concerned by recent developments in the Legislative Council and, while we recognise the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s authority to interpret the Basic Law, by its decision to issue an opinion at this time.”

Like the US, the Office urged restraint, using the exact same wording as Mr Toner of the US.

The European Union flag. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson of European Union Office to Hong Kong told HKFP: “While we recognize the NPCSC’s authority to interpret the Basic Law, we would have expected this issue to be settled by the HK Judiciary in line with well established judicial procedures in accordance with the Basic Law.”

“As a stakeholder in Hong Kong’s future, the EU reiterates its strong attachment to the principle of ‘one country, two systems’, the full respect of the rule of law and the independency of Hong Kong Judiciary, which are the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”

On Monday, Lu Kang, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry told reporters that Hong Kong affairs are internal affairs of China and that foreign countries should not intervene. He said China hoped that international society and relevant countries recognise the “truth” about Hong Kong independence.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.