LONDON (Reuters) – China scolded Britain on Wednesday for interfering in Hong Kong and warned the main contender vying to replace Prime Minister Theresa May that there would be consequences unless he stopped meddling in Chinese internal affairs.
“The UK government chose to stand on the wrong side: it has made inappropriate remarks not only to interfere in internal affairs of Hong Kong but also to back up the violent law-breakers,” China’s ambassador to London, Liu Xiaoming, said.
“I would like to reiterate that Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region; it is not what it used to be under British colonial rule,” Liu told reporters in English.
When asked about comments on Hong Kong by Boris Johnson, the front-runner to succeed May, Liu said he hoped a new British government would refrain from interfering in China’s internal affairs.
“So long as the British government, so long as the new British Prime Minister will follow this principle, I do not see there is any problem in the relationship,” he said.
“But as long as these principles are violated, there will be a problem in the relationship,” he added.
Johnson told Reuters on Wednesday that he backed the people of Hong Kong “every inch of the way” and cautioned China that the “one country, two systems” principle under which the territory has been governed since being handed back to China by Britain in 1997 should not be cast aside.
Reporting by Alistair Smout and Bella Barber; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison