China’s foreign ministry says that it has lodged a “solemn representation” with the UK after Benedict Rogers – the deputy chair of the UK Conservatives’ human rights commission – was denied entry to Hong Kong on Wednesday.

At a press conference on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Hong Kong was a Special Administrative Region of China’s and the central government was responsible for foreign affairs related to Hong Kong.

Hua Chunying. Photo: Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The Central Chinese government and the special administrative region government dealt with the relevant matter in accordance with the law,” Hua said. “To allow or not to allow someone to enter is [within] China’s sovereignty.”

She also said that China is “resolutely opposed” to any foreign government, institution or individual interfering with China’s internal affairs in any way.

“Whether this person’s trip to Hong Kong involved an intention to intervene in Hong Kong’s internal affairs and judicial independence – he knows very well himself.”

She added that China has lodged a solemn representation with Britain over the matter.

Benedict Rogers. Photo: Benedict Rogers.

Rogers is vocal in criticising China and advocating for democracy in Hong Kong. He had urged the international community to speak out for three jailed Hong Kong protest leaders – Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow.

Following the denial of entry, Rogers said: “If China is now in control of Hong Kong immigration, it means that the idea of Hong Kong people running Hong Kong is dead, and if China decides to deny entry to Hong Kong to a person simply for wanting to meet people who have a range of political views, it means the basic rights of freedom of expression and freedom of association are undermined.”

Rogers said he has stressed that his visit was in a personal rather than official capacity, and that he reassured the Chinese Embassy that he would not take part in public engagements or media interviews while in town.

The incident took place shortly after Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivered her first policy address on Wednesday. Lam has said that she believed the city’s immigration policies will not affect public confidence in One Country, Two Systems.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.