China has lodged a diplomatic protest with Britain after London demanded to know why a British human rights activist was barred from entering Hong Kong, it said Thursday. Immigration agents stopped Benedict Rogers, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party’s human rights commission, from entering the former British colony on Wednesday morning.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson voiced concern and said his government would be “seeking an urgent explanation”. China “launched stern representations” over the comments, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a regular press briefing.
“The central government is responsible for Hong Kong-related diplomatic affairs,” she said, adding: “who can get in and who cannot is within our sovereignty.” “Hong Kong affairs are China’s domestic affairs. We oppose the interference in China’s domestic affairs in any way by any foreign government, institution or person.”
Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 under a “One country, two systems” formula intended to protect its freedoms and way of life. The semi-autonomous city is supposed to handle its own immigration affairs. Hong Kong’s immigration department said it did not comment on individual cases. But Hua said that Rogers “meant to interfere in China’s domestic affairs and the judicial independence of Hong Kong”.
The barring of Rogers, who has spoken out against the jailing of Hong Kong democracy activists, came a week before a major congress in Beijing of the ruling Communist Party. The activist said he believed the embassy had somehow become aware of private discussions he had had about possibly visiting the campaigners in prison, which he later realized would not be possible.