Theresa May wants ‘one country, two systems’ respected in wake of Hong Kong barring activist from entering city


Britain wants to ensure the “one country, two systems” model under which Hong Kong is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy from Beijing for half a century is respected, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday.

Responding in parliament to a question from a British lawmaker, May vowed Hong Kong and China would continue to be pressed about the barring of activist Benedict Rogersfrom the city.

China’s ambassador to Britain on Tuesday was summoned to the British Foreign Office to explain the Rogers’ incident, and ministers said they would write to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to further express their concerns.

The prime minister, responding to a question from MP Fiona Bruce during a weekly question and answer session, stated: “We want to ensure that the model of one country and two systems is preserved and continues to operate. On the specific case and the specific issue that she has raised, my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary informs me that the Foreign Office has raised this issue at various levels in relation to Hong Kong and China, and we will continue to do so.”

Bruce, who chairs the UK Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission, also posed questions on Tuesday to Foreign Office staff.

“Does the Prime Minister share the great concerns that were expressed in this House on Wednesday, including by ministers, about the implications for the one country, two systems model in Hong Kong of the recent refusal of the authorities there to allow Ben Rogers, a UK national, entry?” she asked.

“Will the Prime Minister confirm that the government will work with the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to ensure that the democratic freedoms in the one country, two systems model are honoured and preserved?”

“One country, two systems” is the governing formula under which Beijing has run Hong Kong since the city was handed from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Under it, the city gets certain freedoms not enjoyed by people on the mainland.

Rogers, deputy chairman of the same commission, was refused entry to the city upon arriving at Hong Kong International Airport on October 11. He was then put on a plane to Thailand, where he had flown from, and returned to London.

Rogers, commenting on May’s response, said: “This is about Hong Kong and its freedoms and autonomy … I am delighted that this continues to be raised at the very highest levels.”

Concerned about the “erosion” of the “one country, two systems” model, Bruce cited Rogers’ being barred, the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers, and the jailing of pro-democracy leaders, including a democratically elected representative.

Britain warned in its latest six-monthly report on Hong Kong that “important areas” of the “one country, two systems” model were coming under “increasing pressure.”

Asked if the chief executive had received any letters or messages from the British government, a spokesman for Carrie Lam said: “The Chief Executive’s Office has not received any letter [or] email from the UK government on the matter so far.”

NewsDanny LeeWW