The British Consulate General in Hong Kong has hit back after the pro-Beijing media and some lawmakers compared the UK’s immigration policies to Hong Kong’s expulsion of a Financial Times journalist.

Pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po have carried reports claiming that the UK did not give reasons for its past cases of denial of entry.

After the authorities rejected Asia Editor Victor Mallet’s visa renewal earlier this month, several pro-establishment lawmakers circulated a picture on social media comparing his case to visa denials in the UK. Mallet was placed alongside former Hezbollah spokesperson Ibrahim Moussawi and far-right activist Lauren Southern – who were both displayed as “journalists” in the viral picture.

uk britain consulate
UK Consulate General, Hong Kong. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Lawmaker Michael Luk from the Federation of Trade Unions first shared the picture on Facebook. It was then re-shared by fellow lawmakers Kwok Wai-keung, Alice Mak and Ho Kai-ming. It has since been shared over 640 times.

Without naming the lawmakers, the UK Consulate posted a “Message from the Consul General” on Monday evening in an apparent rebuttal.

【Message from the Consul General】In recent days attempts have been made to draw comparisons between the decision not to…

Posted by UK in Hong Kong on Monday, 15 October 2018

“In recent days attempts have been made to draw comparisons between the decision not to give any reason for the refusal of the work visa of FT journalist, Victor Mallet, and the UK Government’s decisions to refuse named individuals’ entry to the UK,” the message read.

“Such comparisons are wrong. If an individual is denied entry to the UK or a visa application is refused, the individual is notified of the reasons behind the decision so they can consider whether they have grounds for appeal.”

有句嘢小編覺得好啱:當你一個手指指住人嘅時候,要記得,仲有四個手指指住自己。唔好有口話人,冇口話自己。(相:網上綜合)#港獨 #言論自由 #口噏當秘笈

Posted by 陸頌雄 on Monday, 8 October 2018

The Financial Times had said that the Hong Kong government did not give any reason for Mallet’s visa denial.

Luk’s post mentioned that, when Moussawi and Southern were denied of entry in 2009 and 2018 respectively, London said it considered their presence “not conducive to the public good.” The reasons for the denials were widely reported.

Mallet hosted a luncheon talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) in August, which featured independence advocate Andy Chan as guest speaker. Chan’s Hong Kong National Party has since been banned, with police citing threats to national security.

Democrats and press freedom groups have said the event led to Mallet’s expulsion from the city, whilst the Financial Times has said it will appeal the decision. Mallet left Hong Kong last Friday having only secured a seven-day visitor visa.

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.