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UK PM May raises ‘concerns’ over Hong Kong with China

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a press conference following the G20 Osaka Summit in Osaka on June 29, 2019. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday she had raised “concerns” over protecting Hong Kong’s autonomy with China’s rulers after another round of pro-democracy protests in the former UK colony.

“I have raised my concerns directly with Chinese leaders,” May told British MPs at the weekly questions in parliament session.

“It’s vital that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms set down in the Sino-British joint declaration are respected,” she added, referring to the agreement governing its 1997 handover.

May said she was “shocked” by the violent protests at Hong Kong’s legislative council building Monday, but noted that hundreds of thousands of people had protested “peacefully and lawfully”.

Her comments came just hours after Beijing said it had lodged an official protest with London after British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned of “serious consequences” if it breached the Sino-British declaration.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Hunt, who is battling ex-London mayor Boris Johnson to succeed May as British leader later this month — was “fantasizing in the faded glory of British colonialism”.

It is the second day in a row that China has slammed Hunt for remarks he has made regarding the unprecedented anti-Beijing protests that have rocked Hong Kong in recent weeks.

Under the 1997 handover deal from British to Chinese rule, whose terms last for 50 years, Hong Kong enjoys rights and liberties unseen on the mainland.

But protesters accuse Beijing of reneging on that agreement with the help of unelected leaders.

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