Former Hong Kong Democratic Party legislators attend a news conference after being released on bail on January 8. Photo / AP
China has fired a warning shot at the Five Eyes nations that raised concerns about a mass arrest of politicians and activists in Hong Kong.
Australia, Canada, the UK and US condemned the largest crackdown yet under Hong Kong’s controversial national security law in a joint statement issued on Sunday.
New Zealand did not contribute to the joint statement, saying it aired its concerns individually on January 7.
Sunday’s statement alleged the laws were being used to “eliminate dissent and opposing political views”, and called on authorities to respect the rights and freedoms of Hongkongers.
But China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has slammed the claims and issued a warning to stop meddling in its internal affairs.
“Relevant countries are confusing right and wrong, misleading the public and blatantly intervening in China’s Hong Kong affairs,” Zhao said today.
“[They] should face squarely the reality that Hong Kong has returned to China.”
Zhao said the clampdown on criminal activities under the national security laws were safeguarding China’s sovereignty and security.
“This is beyond reproach and cannot be slandered,” he said.
“Peace and tranquillity has been restored and justice upheld in the Hong Kong society, and the legal rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents have been better protected in a safer environment.
This is an undeniable fact.”
At least 55 pro-democracy politicians and activists were arrested last week under the laws, which have made crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism activities and collusion with a foreign country attract penalties of up to life in prison.
Four of the Five Eyes nations have also demanded that Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections – rescheduled for September after being postponed last year due to Covid-19 – include candidates representing a range of political opinions.