London, Jul 6 (efe-epa).- The Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom Liu Xiaoming on Monday said the British government’s offer of fast-tracked British citizenship for millions of Hongkongers was a “gross interference” in China’s internal affairs.
The two countries have been at odds over Beijing’s decision to roll out a national security law in the former British colony, with the UK government accusing China of breaching the treaty underpinning the 1997 handover of the special-status territory.
Critics of the law, which criminalizes subversion, terrorism and pro-independence movements with harsh prison sentences, say it curbs free speech in Hong Kong and effectively ends the principle of one country, two systems while the Chinese government insists it is necessary to restore order.
For over a year, Hong Kong has been mired in mass pro-democracy and anti-government protests.
“The UK government keeps making irresponsible remarks on Hong Kong affairs,” the ambassador said.
The Chinese envoy also criticized the debate that has emerged in British politics over the possibility of reneging on a provisional deal that would see Chinese tech giant Huawei help roll out the UK’s 5G network.
The United States has warned Johnson against agreeing to the Huawei deal and has accused the Chinese company of installing technology that can provide so-called backdoor access to sensitive information.
“We want to be your friend, we want to be your partner, but if you want to make China a hostile country you have to bear the consequences,” Liu said in an online press conference.
Last week prime minister Boris Johnson announced an immigration plan that would allow 350,000 British overseas passport (BNO) holders and 2.6 million eligible candidates to seek settled status and later citizenship in the UK.
According to the current regulation, BNO holders in Hong Kong require a visa to remain in the UK for a period of six months.