Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she cannot exclude the possibility that former colonial governor Chris Patten will be the next to be barred from Hong Kong.

After Benedict Rogers – the deputy chair of the UK Conservatives’ human rights commission – was denied entry to Hong Kong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it is within China’s sovereignty to allow or not to allow someone to enter the city.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, when referring to Rogers: “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.”

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

On a RTHK 3 radio programme on Friday, Lam maintained she would not comment on individual cases and would not disclose details.

She said Hong Kong has its own immigration policy, “but when it comes to foreign affairs, then it’s a matter for the Central People’s Government.”

“But I want to clarify any worries or misunderstanding that this whole matter of immigration is now being taken over by the Central People’s Government – that’s certainly, definitely not the case,” she said.

“Decisions of this nature will not be taken arbitrarily, there must be clear evidence,” she added.

Lam was repeatedly asked by the hosts if Patten – who visited Hong Kong last month and spoke about Hong Kong affairs – will be barred from Hong Kong next.

See more: Exclusive: Hong Kong leaders will ‘always need to stand up to Beijing’, says city’s last governor Chris Patten

“I can’t exclude any possibility because immigration matters will change depending on the case,” she said.

Chris Patten.
Chris Patten. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Lam added that she did not think any of her British friends were worried about being denied entry to Hong Kong.

‘Keep struggling’

Rogers said he believed that the “One Country, Two Systems” principle governing Hong Kong is “now seriously threatened.”

“But that doesn’t mean we should be discouraged. I think we should be concerned but I want to encourage people in Hong Kong to keep struggling, keep speaking out and defending your basic freedoms and basic rights,” he said in a video recorded outside the BBC studio in London and posted on Twitter by lawmaker Ray Chan.

“And as you do so, I want to promise that I will do everything I can with my friends and colleagues in London to give as much support as possible in that struggle to defend the rule of law, basic freedoms, and ‘One Country, Two Systems’ in Hong Kong.”

Rogers is vocal in criticising China and advocating 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.

He wrote in a commentary piece that he received a phone call from a British MP last Friday – who acted as an intermediary for the Chinese embassy in London – expressing concerns that an attempt to visit the student leaders would pose “a grave threat to Sino-British relations.”

See more: Benedict Rogers: Why the world must wake up to China’s threat to freedom in Hong Kong

He said he had stressed that he was visiting in a personal rather than official capacity, and that he reassured the Chinese Embassy that he would not be attempting to visit any prisons and would not take part in public engagements or media interviews in the city.

He also said the Chinese embassy apparently misunderstood his status and mistakenly thought his visit to Hong Kong would be made in an official capacity.

Chris Smith
Photo: CECC.

US House Representative Chris Smith, co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said the incident was “another audacious blow to Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

“I am shocked and saddened that the Chinese government is warning foreigners about who they can meet in Hong Kong and then openly admitting complicity in barring Benedict Rogers from entry to the city,” he said.

“Beijing claims that this is an ‘internal matter,’ but Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms are guaranteed by international treaty, so thus are a global concern—particularly as China seeks to actively erode pro-democracy voices in the city.”

“This incident is a breach of the Basic Law and it must send a chill through all corporations and countries that have an interest in maintaining Hong Kong’s freedoms. There must be a concerted effort to push back with the leaders in Beijing and the government in Hong Kong. We all have a stake in ensuring Hong Kong remains an open city, with the rule of law and guaranteed rights currently unavailable in Mainland China.”

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, legal sector legislator Dennis Kwok asked if a US Congress delegation planning to visit the Legislative Council next Saturday would be allowed to enter Hong Kong.

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.