China has expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with a statement issued by leaders of the G7 nations, who backed the protesters’ bid for autonomy in Hong Kong and called for calm after three months of protests and unrest.
G7 leaders, who met in Biarritz in southern France, said on Monday they backed Hong Kong’s autonomy – as laid out in a 1984 agreement between Britain and China.
“The G7 reaffirms the existence and the importance of the 1984 Sino-British agreement on Hong Kong and calls for avoiding violence,” according to a joint statement issued at the end of a G7 summit.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and France all voiced “deep concern” about the situation in Hong Kong.
“The G7 nations all want to support a stable and prosperous Hong Kong and we remain collectively committed to the one-country, two-systems framework,” he said.
But Beijing hit back on Tuesday, accusing foreign governments of interfering in their internal affairs. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the G7 was “meddling” and “harboring evil intentions”.
“We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the statement made by the leaders of the G7 Summit on Hong Kong affairs,” Geng said at a press briefing in Beijing.
“We have repeatedly stressed that Hong Kong’s affairs are purely China’s internal affairs and that no foreign government, organization or individual has the right to intervene.”
Hong Kong has been wracked by three months of mass protests and clashes in the streets over an attempt by its Beijing-backed city government to pass an extradition bill that opponents said would destroy the city’s autonomy. It has since morphed into a wider call for greater democratic freedoms.
Beijing has claimed previously that former colonial power Britain was interfering in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, which was handed over to China in 1997.
“The rule of law, social order, economic livelihood and international image of Hong Kong has been severely affected,” Geng said.
“No one cares more about the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong than the Chinese people, including the people of Hong Kong.”
The financial hub faced more violence over the weekend, with police saying on Monday that they were forced to fire water cannons and a warning shot to fend off “extremely violent” demonstrators, marking some of the worst violence in the last 12 weeks of political unrest in the city.
So far Beijing has not intervened over unrest in the semi-autonomous city, despite ramping up the rhetoric against demonstrators and mounting fears that they may act militarily to quell the violence.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday her government would not condone violence despite the fact it has started a dialogue to end the ongoing protests.
Speaking at her weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said the police must continue to maintain law and order. But she said the government would continue to build a platform for dialogue and confirmed that she had closed-door meetings with youngsters on Monday.
With reporting by AFP