Ottawa [Canada], July 4 (ANI): Beijing has urged Ottawa not to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs after Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly asserted that the city's freedom was being suppressed under Chinese authority.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule, Chinese Embassy in Ottawa in a statement said external forces should not make "irresponsible remarks".
"Hong Kong affairs are purely China's internal affairs, and no external forces are in the position to make irresponsible remarks. The "deep ties" between Canada and Hong Kong are not an excuse to interfere in Hong Kong affairs," the statement read.
"We, once again, urge the Canadian side to respect the rule of law, respect China's sovereignty and unity, and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs in any form. Otherwise, the Canadian side will only bring disgrace to itself and meet with strong reactions from the Chinese side," the statement added further.
On Thursday, Joly in a statement said that Canada had direct ties with Hong Kong, with an estimated 300,000 Canadians living in the city and more than 100 Canadian companies with a presence there.
"Hong Kong was the first place Canadians fought a land battle in the Second World War. Today, over half a million Hong Kong residents call Canada home and an estimated 300,000 Canadians reside in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is also one of Canada's most important bilateral trade and investment partners, a fact confirmed by the presence of over 100 notable Canadian companies in the territory. These direct ties and the universal values we share enrich our societies and unite us," she has stated.
But Joly said freedom of speech and peaceful expression of alternative views had been suppressed over the past two years with the imposition of national security law in Hong Kong.
"We call on Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to act in accordance with international obligations they willingly undertook 25 years ago. The high degree of autonomy provided under the Basic Law and China's commitment to respect the rule of law and to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms is as essential today for the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong as they were when committed to in 1997. They will continue to be so tomorrow and for the next 25 years and beyond," the Foreign Minister further stated.
On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was handed over to the People's Republic of China (PRC) from the United Kingdom under the conditions set out in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Joint Declaration provides for fundamental rights, a high degree of autonomy and the "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong.
"25 years later, Hong Kong is no longer the city we once recognised," according to Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). The draconian National Security Law, implemented on June 30, 2020, has been used to punish dissent, curtail protest and freedom of speech and reduce the city's autonomy.
Since the law's adoption, there have been at least 183 arrests made and 113 individuals charged, with more than 50 civil society organisations forced to disband and multiple media outlets ceasing to operate. (ANI)