Hong Kong protests: Jeremy Hunt ‘keeping options open’ over China


HONG KONG, (DNA) – The UK foreign secretary has continued to warn China it could face “serious consequences” over its treatment of protesters in Hong Kong.Jeremy Hunt told the he was keeping his options open over how the UK could respond, and refused to rule out sanctions.A group of activists occupied Hong Kong’s parliament on Monday over a controversial extradition bill.

China warned the UK not to “interfere in its domestic affairs”.

Mr Hunt said he would not discuss any potential consequences “because you don’t want to provoke the very situation you are trying to avoid”.

“Of course you keep your options open,” he added, insisting the UK would not just “gulp and move on” if China cracks down on protesters in the former British colony.

Mr Hunt said he “condemned all violence” but warned the Chinese government not to respond to the protests “by repression”.

Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 150 years, but it was returned to China in 1997 after a treaty was signed by the two countries.

The 1984 treaty guaranteed a level of economic autonomy and personal freedoms not permitted on the mainland.

Demonstrators argue that a piece of legislation introduced by the city’s pro-Beijing leader would make it easier to transfer people to face trial in China.

Mr Hunt reiterated that China must honour Hong Kong’s high level of autonomy from Beijing.

“The heart of people’s concerns has been that very precious thing that Hong Kong has had, which is an independent judicial system,” Mr Hunt told.

“The United Kingdom views this situation very, very seriously,” he added.

China’s ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office on Wednesday following “unacceptable and inaccurate” remarks.

Liu Xiaoming said relations between China and the UK had been “damaged” by comments by Mr Hunt and others backing the demonstrators’ actions.

He said those who illegally occupied the Legislative Council building and raised the colonial-era British flag should be “condemned as law breakers”.

He added that it was “hypocritical” of UK politicians to criticise the lack of democracy and civil rights in Hong Kong when, under British rule, there had been no elections nor right to protest.