China’s embassy in Ottawa has fired back at Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland for a statement she issued about protests in Hong Kong, sparked by the local government’s proposed changes to extradition law.
“Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs (that) no other country, organization or individual has the right to interfere in,” said the embassy in a statement.
As protests continue in the ‘autonomous’ city statelet, some Hong Kong businessmen are reportedly moving personal wealth offshore while police clash with demonstrators in the streets.
The proposed law would allow for the first time extradition of suspects to face trial in China and international concerns are that it could be used to target foreign nationals in the Asia business hub as well.
“Canada remains concerned about the potential effect these proposals may have on the large number of Canadian citizens in Hong Kong, on business confidence, and on Hong Kong’s international reputation,” declared Freeland in a statement she issued Wednesday.
China’s response issued by its embassy appeared a combination of admonishment, blame and veiled threat.
“No country should interfere in the internal affairs of other countries on the grounds of caring for its expatriates. Canada also has many foreign expatriates,” it said.
“What really affects Hong Kong’s business confidence and international reputation is not the amendment of the ordinance, but those acts of violence, which have been incited by external forces.”
Canada is already at loggerheads with China over the house arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, where she awaits possible extradition to the United States for alleged violations of sanctions on Iran involving bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy.
China has since retaliated, most recently with an embargo on billions of dollars of Canadian canola and pork products, which followed the communist state’s arrest of two Canadians who are accused of espionage.
Hong Kong island was ceded to Britain after the first Opium War ended in 1842 and was later leased to the British for 99 years. In 1984 the UK and China negotiated a transfer agreement that saw Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a ‘one country, two systems’ policy.
Since that time, China has chipped away at this autonomy and proposed changes to extradition law there is viewed as the mainland’s latest attempt to exert more control over Hong Kong and its residents.