The Chinese Foreign Ministry has criticised localist politician Yau Wai-ching for requesting intervention from the UK after her lawmaker status was disqualified by a Hong Kong court.

On Tuesday, Yau published a letter to British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, saying that the interpretation of the Basic Law by Beijing was a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, since it was a “de facto amendment” of the Basic Law rather than an interpretation. Beijing’s actions violated the Annex I of the joint declaration and the UK should take action, Yau wrote.

Yau Wai-ching
Yau Wai-ching outside the High Court. Photo: Chantal Yuen.

Geng Shuang, a spokesperson for the ministry, said at a regular news conference on Thursday that Hong Kong affairs are the internal affairs of China and foreign countries do not have the right to intervene, when asked about Yau’s letter.

“Hong Kong independence forces are making an attempt to split the country and publicly seeking foreign support,” Geng said. “Such action severely violates the Chinese constitution, Hong Kong’s Basic Law and the relevant laws of Hong Kong – it hurts the sovereignty and security of China, hurts the fundamental interests of Hong Kong, and touches the bottomline of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle.”

“We offer this advice to those who rely on foreign forces: any attempt to use foreign forces to achieve their political goals will not succeed,” he added.

The High Court is to hear next Thursday an appeal from Yau and Baggio Leung Chung-hang, the Youngspiration lawmakers at the centre of the oath controversy.

Spokesperson Geng was also asked to comment on a suggestion made in the annual report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on Thursday. It said that the US Department of State should prepare a report that examines whether Hong Kong has maintained a “sufficient degree of autonomy” under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.

“The Commission you mentioned fabricated so-called reports on China year-after-year, the content is always the same old items, they are completely cliché – once again exposing the bias towards China and the fixed mindset of this Commission,” Geng told the reporter. “I don’t know how many people would actually care about this report, I have no interest to comment on its specific details.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong sent a letter to the editor to the Wall Street Journal, continuing an op-ed battle with Hong Kong student leaders.

It was a response to an article by Joshua Wong Chi-fung, secretary-general of the Demosisto party, and Jeffrey Ngo, a master’s student of Global Histories at New York University. They wrote a piece on November 10 in the Wall Street Journal demanding self-determination rights for Hong Kong.

Foreign ministry self-determination
Photo: Chinese Gov.

A spokesperson of the Office of the Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong said in the letter that by demanding self-determination and saying that “the people of Hong Kong must challenge the legitimacy of our existing constitution,” Wong and Ngo were openly advocating Hong Kong independence.

“The so-called ‘Hong Kong nation’ has never existed. Hong Kong is not a colony… it is totally absurd and ignorant to state that ‘Hong Kong has the right to self-determination,” the letter read.

“It is gravely wrong and dangerous to claim that Hong Kong is not part of China and challenge the country’s sovereignty and Constitution by advocating ‘self-determination’ and independence,” it added. “The Chinese central government adopt zero tolerance for ‘Hong Kong independence’ activity of whatever form. We are committed to this unequivocal position with no leniency.”

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.