Reacting sharply to UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab’s remarks on the case of 12 Hong Kongers facing charges for illegal border crossing, China on Tuesday urged London to stop interfering in China’s internal matters.
On Monday, Raab expressed concerns that the Hong Kongers were tried in secret in Shenzhen and asked China to “conduct trials in a fair and transparent manner.”
His remarks come after the much-anticipated trial of 12 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists who were intercepted at sea by the Chinese coastguard in August while fleeing to Taiwan as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed its draconian National Security Law.
The Chinese embassy has claimed that the case was given an open trial of the first instance at the People’s Court of Yantian District in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.
The embassy deemed Raab’s remarks as “fact-distorting” and called the UK Government to take concrete steps to abide by international law and the basic norms governing international relations, and “stop interfering immediately in Hong Kong affairs, China’s internal affairs and China’s judicial sovereignty”, the embassy said.
Eleven out of 12 Hong Kongers, aged 16 to 33, have been already charged in Hong Kong with offences related to the last year-anti-government protests.
On August 23, the 12 boarded a speedboat at the pier of Po Toi O, a nondescript village in Sai Kung, and headed towards Taiwan. However, their vessel was intercepted by the Chinese coastguard. They were arrested and have been detained ever since at the Yantian district detention centre in Shenzhen, a mainland city just across the border from Hong Kong.
The Yantian People’s Procuratorate confirmed on December 16 that 10 would face charges, while closed-door hearings would be held to decide how to deal with the other two, who are underage.
Despite information from the court last week that the trial would be held behind closed doors, staff maintained on Monday that it was in fact open to the public – before immediately noting that the gallery was full.
Prior to the hearing, the US embassy in Beijing called for the detainees’ release, saying their only “so-called ‘crime’ was to flee tyranny”.
Hitting back, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Washington had “ignored the facts, and mixed up right and wrong”.