Britain summons Chinese ambassador as he accuses Government of taking ‘wrong side’ on Hong Kong
China’s ambassador to the UK accused Britain of interfering over Hong Kong with a "colonial mindset" in a move that threatened to spark a major diplomatic crisis.
Liu Xiaoming was summoned to the Foreign office after his comments amid a spiraling war of words over the handling of protests in the former British colony.
On Tuesday Jeremy Hunt warned China of “serious consequences” if it sought to use the disorder as a pretext for a mass crackdown on the protest movement.
In a press conference called on Wednesday, Mr Liu said that Britain should “seriously reflect on the consequences of its words and deeds with regard to Hong Kong”.
"I tell them: hands off Hong Kong and show respect. This colonial mindset is still haunting the minds of some officials or politicians," he said.
Summoned to the foreign office over the remarks, Liu Xiaoming was also asked to explain the “unacceptable and inaccurate” comments after a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman described UK requests that Beijing respect a deal guaranteeing the former colony’s political freedoms as "basking in the faded glory of British colonialism".
Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman, said: "The UK considers itself as a guardian which is nothing but a delusion. It is just shameless to say that Hong Kong’s freedoms are negotiated for them by the British side."
Tensions have risen since hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Monday in the latest of a series of protests against a proposed law that would allow suspects in criminal cases to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China for the first time.
The demonstration turned violent when a hard core of demonstrators stormed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building and clashed with riot police.
Hong Kong police on Wednesday evening arrested 13 people in connection with storming the parliament building.
Eight others were arrested for trying to steal and disclose personal information about police officers and inciting criminal activity online.
Hong Kong protests: riot police baton charge and fire tear gas to clear demonstrations at parliament, in pictures
The city returned to normal Wednesday, and workers began repairing the many broken windows and removed protest signs that had covered the walls of the building for weeks.
But protesters described a growing sense of despair and said volunteers had been dispatched to dissuade demoralised demonstrators considering suicide.
Three people involved with the protest movement have taken their own lives in recent weeks.
“I’m quite certain this political crisis will continue, because the government has so far been completely inadequate in their response,” said Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker, told The Telegraph.
“We need to safeguard whatever freedom and rule of law there is in Hong Kong on an ongoing basis and to fight for democracy.”
Joshua Wong, a twice-jailed pro-democracy campaigner, said he was not involved with the group that took over the Legislative Council but said they had acted out of desperation.
“I understand their intentions and it’s hard to encourage anyone to take actions that might incur 10 years in jail terms.
“But I hope people can have more understanding. Two million people had already come out, but the government ignored them,” he wrote to his 221,000 followers on Twitter.