LONDON: A group of British lawmakers investigating Britain’s relations with Hong Kong have been told China will not allow them into the former colony, the MPs said Sunday (Monday in Manila).
The Foreign Affairs Committee, a panel of lawmakers who scrutinise the Foreign Office’s work, is looking into Britain’s relations with the Chinese special administrative region 30 years on from the 1984 Joint Declaration, which set out the terms of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong.
Richard Ottaway, who chairs the cross-party panel, said he would on Monday call for an emergency debate in parliament on the situation.
The 11-member committee, which reports to the lower House of Commons, planned to visit Hong Kong before the end of the year as part of its inquiry.
“The Chinese government have, in past weeks and months, registered their opposition to the inquiry,” the committee said in a statement.
The move comes amid continuing protests by pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong who have been demanding the right to choose their own leaders without interference from Beijing.
“I have been informed by the Chinese embassy that if we attempt to travel to Hong Kong we will be refused entry,” Ottaway said.
“We are a committee of elected members of parliament from a democratic nation who wish to scrutinise British diplomatic work in Hong Kong.
“The Chinese government are acting in an overtly confrontational manner in refusing us access to do our job.
“I shall be asking the speaker tomorrow to grant an emergency debate on the floor of the house,” he said.
Earlier this month, the panel questioned Chris Patten, the governor who oversaw the transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese sovereignty.
He rejected Beijing’s assertions that Hong Kong’s political situation was no longer anything to do with London, citing binding agreements signed between the countries.
“The Joint Declaration provides obligations on China to us for 50 years,” he said.
Protesters have demonstrated in the streets for two months, demanding free leadership elections for the semi-autonomous city in 2017.
They have been calling for full democratic reforms that would allow them to choose who will vie for the city’s top post. Beijing says all candidates to become chief executive must be vetted by a loyalist committee.