BEIJING (AP) — China on Friday accused Danish politicians of violating “basic norms governing international relations” in a feud over a visit by a former Hong Kong opposition lawmaker and pro-democracy activist to the Scandinavian country.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the action of the lawmakers, whom she did not name, “damages Denmark’s image as a country that has always emphasized the rule of law.”
Hua’s comments at a daily briefing came during a visit to Denmark by Ted Hui, who was arrested in Hong Kong in May over a protest in the city's Legislative Council. Hui was able to get his passport back from the government and obtain a visa after receiving an invitation from Danish lawmakers to travel to Denmark, where he arrived Tuesday.
“We oppose any individual, organization or country interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, meddling in Hong Kong’s judicial sovereignty and harboring Hong Kong criminals in any way," Hua said.
Hui on Thursday told The Associated Press that he is going into exile and will soon move to Britain, which ran Hong Kong as a colony from 1841 until returning it to China in 1997.
It was not clear when Hui would travel to Britain, which, in response to a crackdown on opposition in Hong Kong, has extended residency rights for up to 3 million Hong Kongers eligible for British National Overseas, or BNO, passports, allowing them to live and work there for five years and offering a path to eventual citizenship.
The passport issue has angered Beijing, and Hua repeated the government's threat to retaliate over what she called interference in China's internal affairs.
“If the U.K. violates its commitments in the first place, China will consider no longer recognizing BNO passports as valid travel documents, and we reserve the right to take further measures," she said.
Hong Kong has become a major flashpoint in China's foreign relations following the suppression of sometimes-violent anti-government protests in the city last year. In June, Beijing imposed a sweeping National Security Law that led to a further crackdown and which critics say amounts to China betraying its promise to allow Hong Kong to retain its separate political and civil rights until 2047.
Since the start of the anti-government protests in June 2019, Hong Kong police have made more than 10,000 arrests, most recently prominent pro-democracy figures including activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, as well as outspoken media tycoon Jimmy Lai.
Hui’s parents, wife and two young children left Hong Kong on a flight on Wednesday, Hong Kong online news portal HK01 reported. It did not mention their destination.
Along with Hong Kong, China has tangled with European nations over human rights, Taiwan, trade and other issues.