China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said a report – which has been published by the UK government on Hong Kong developments every six months since 1997 – is an attempt to disrupt the city’s legislative polls on Sunday.

The report “vilified” the national security law, the ministry’s Hong Kong office said, urging Britain to “stop interfering” in Hong Kong’s affairs. Meanwhile, the city’s government said it strongly opposed “unfounded allegations” made against it in the report.

Nicholas Wong
File Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

In the UK’s latest six-monthly report, which covers January 1 to June 30, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said mainland China and Hong Kong used laws including the national security law “against all opposition, free press and civil society.”

China breached its legal obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration as authorities silenced pro-democracy political figures through prosecutions and pre-trial detention, she wrote.

China also “misrepresented” normal diplomatic contact as “foreign collusion,” she said.

In response to these developments, the British government provided an immigration route for British National (Overseas) passport holders and their families, suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong, and expanded its arms embargo on mainland China to include the city.

Chinese Hong Kong flag
Chinese and Hong Kong flags outside the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong. Photo: Facebook/MFAofficeHK.

Responding to the British report, the office of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong said in a statement that it “strongly disapproved, firmly rejected and condemned the so-called” report. It “again smeared the rule of law and development in Hong Kong, slandered the successful practice of ‘one country, two systems’, vilified the National Security Law [and] the electoral system”.

‘Disrupting the election’

“The intention of the British side putting together the so-called report before the Hong Kong LegCo election is to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and disrupt the election order of the HKSAR,” the statement read.

However, London has published 49 reports since 1997 – twice a year – to monitor the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong which governed the city’s handover to China.

In a separate statement, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong government said it “strongly oppose[s] the various unfounded allegations against the HKSAR Government in the Report.”

Following the implementation of the national security law, “chaos stopped and stability has been restored in Hong Kong,” it read, while all prosecutorial decisions are undertaken by the Department of Justice independently “free from any interference” and are based on objective assessment of evidence and laws “without political considerations.”

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.