A senior Tory MP has denied that the UK is interfering in foreign affairs after the Chinese ambassador to London blasted Western countries for their response to the Hong Kong crisis.
In a speech today Liu Xiaoming accused the government and the influential foreign affairs committee of making “irresponsible remarks” and taking the side of the protesters.
“I think when the British government criticises Hong Kong police, criticises the Hong Kong government in handling the situation, they are interfering into China’s internal affairs,” he said.
But foreign affairs committee chair Tom Tugendhat called for an end to the violence and refuted the suggestion that the UK’s response was inappropriate.
“Calling for an end to violence isn’t foreign interference, it’s defending the Joint Declaration,” he said, referring to the agreement signed by the UK and China in 1984 to determine the future of Hong Kong.
In a speech at the Chinese embassy in London, Liu accused the government of being two-faced in its response to the ongoing crisis in the former British colony.
“They look like they are balanced but as a matter of fact they are taking sides. That is our position,” he said.
He also slammed the Western media, saying that reporting on Hong Kong was misleading and did not give enough prominence to violence perpetrated by the protesters.
The territory has been engulfed in violent clashes over the last six months, as protesters voice their anger over a perceived tightening of control by Beijing.
In a dramatic escalation last night police laid siege to the Polytechnic University, firing rubber bullets and tear gas to pin down anti-government protesters armed with petrol bombs to stop them from fleeing.
Protesters have accused police of brutality, and the latest clashes have drawn condemnation from the US, which branded the police crackdown as an “unjustified use of force”.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said the UK was “seriously concerned by the escalation in violence from both the protesters and the authorities”.
However, Tugendhat told City A.M. that the UK needed China’s voice in “building the rule of law and defending global trade”.
“That’s what has seen China and Britain prosper over many years and will ensure we continue to work together,” he added.
Main image credit: Getty