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SINO DAILY
British human rights activist barred from entering Hong Kong
By Elaine YU
Hong Kong (AFP) Oct 11, 2017


China raps Britain after activist barred from Hong Kong
Beijing (AFP) Oct 12, 2017 - 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 ruling 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 Chunying said Rogers "meant to interfere in China's domestic affairs and the judicial independence of Hong Kong".

Rogers however said he told Hong Kong immigration authorities Wednesday that he was on a "purely private visit".

"I reiterated to them that... I wasn't going to be taking any public engagements or media interviews in Hong Kong, I wasn't there representing any organisation. I was there purely as a private individual," he told AFP.

Rogers said he was contacted last week by the Chinese embassy in London through an intermediary and had given them the same assurances, which he described as a "step further" on his part to "try to de-escalate the situation".

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 about possibly visiting the campaigners in prison, which he later realised would not be possible.

A British human rights activist who has criticised the jailing of democracy campaigners in Hong Kong was barred Wednesday from visiting the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

Benedict Rogers, who is deputy chairman of the Conservative Party's human rights commission, arrived from Bangkok in the morning but was turned away by immigration.

"They didn't provide any reason at all, that is really a strange thing," he told AFP by phone after returning to Thailand the same day.

Rogers said he had received an indirect message last week from the Chinese embassy in London, warning that his entry to Hong Kong could be denied. He said the message came via a third party whom he did not identify.

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 realised would not be possible.

"It's very clear that the decision in my case was not taken in Hong Kong, it was clearly taken by the Chinese government," Rogers said.

"(This) is extremely concerning for what it means for 'One country, two systems'".

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.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said London wanted an urgent explanation.

"I am very concerned that a UK national has been denied entry to Hong Kong," Johnson said in a statement.

"The British government will be seeking an urgent explanation from the Hong Kong authorities and from the Chinese government.

"Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy, and its rights and freedoms, are central to its way of life and should be fully respected."

- 'Serious blow' -

The barring of Rogers came a week before a major congress in Beijing of the ruling Communist Party.

Former Hong Kong government chief secretary Anson Chan described Wednesday's incident as "another serious blow" to the agreement guaranteeing Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy.

Critics say China has been tightening its grip over Hong Kong since a major pro-democracy protest in 2014 known as the Umbrella Movement.

Activists including 20-year-old Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow were jailed in August for breaches of law during the movement, prompting concern from campaigners and rights groups about the city's judicial independence.

Rogers -- who lived in Hong Kong between 1997 and 2002 -- had spoken out against the jailing of Wong and others.

Their imprisonment "is one of the most grotesque miscarriages of justice I have seen," not in its severity but symbolically, he wrote in an opinion piece in August.

"Hong Kong used to be the one part of China that was still free, where people could still protest without fear, where the rule of law and basic rights still meant something. No longer," he wrote.

Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam, who delivered her first policy address on Wednesday, declined to comment on Rogers's case at a news conference.

Lam said in her speech that Hong Kongers have a duty to stand up for China over threats to its sovereignty.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited Hong Kong in July to mark 20 years since its handover, warned of a "red line" when it came to challenging Beijing's control.

SINO DAILY
Hong Kongers must stand up for China, says leader Lam
Hong Kong (AFP) Oct 11, 2017
Hong Kongers have a duty to stand up for China over threats to its sovereignty, the territory's leader Carrie Lam said Wednesday, months after Beijing warned against any challenge to its control over the semi-autonomous city. Lam, making her first policy address since she came to power earlier this year, skirted the subject of political reform as the city's pro-democracy forces contend with ... read more

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