U.K. Urges China to Respect Hong Kong Freedoms After Paper Shut

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called on China to respect the basic freedoms of Hong Kong residents following the arrest of journalists and the closure of the Apple Daily newspaper in the former British colony.

“We certainly view what’s been happening with the closure of the Apple Daily and the arrest of journalists very, very seriously,” Raab said Thursday during a press briefing in Singapore. “It is part of the ongoing failure to comply with the joint declaration by China -- a series of commitments to respect their freedoms and the people of Hong Kong. That’s reflected in the basic law and we call on China to respect the terms that it freely signed up to.”

He also said the U.K. “will continue to see what we can do to support Hong Kong” and has worked with its partners “at every opportunity.”

London has accused Beijing of violating the terms of the agreement governing the Asian financial center’s return to Chinese rule in 1997. The deal guaranteed Hong Kong’s free markets, independent courts and civil liberties for 50 years under a “one country, two systems” framework.

China has defended its enactment of the sweeping national security legislation used to cripple the Apple Daily as necessary to restore order after a wave of unrest gripped the city in 2019. At a news briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reaffirmed Beijing’s position that the treaty gives the U.K. no right to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs.

Meanwhile, Raab also reiterated that no shots were fired on the HMS Defender, after Russia said it used bombs and gunfire in “warning shots” to force a Royal Navy destroyer to leave waters it claims in the Black Sea.

“The Royal Navy ship was conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters,” he said. “We were doing so in accordance with international law and the Russian characterization is predictably inaccurate.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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