MPs seek debate over Hong Kong ban

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Published: Monday 1st December 2014 by The News Editor

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MPs are pressing for an emergency Commons debate after China warned that it would not allow a British parliamentary fact-finding mission to enter Hong Kong.

Sir Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), said they had been told by the Chinese embassy that they would be turned back if they tried to enter the former British colony.

The committee had been planning to visit Hong Kong as part of an inquiry into its relations with the UK 30 years after the joint declaration which led to the handover to China in 1997.

The Foreign Office (FCO) said the decision to deny the MPs access to Hong Kong was “regrettable” and that it had made its view known to the Chinese authorities at “the most senior levels”.

The move comes as police in Hong Kong arrested 40 pro-democracy demonstrators in the latest clashes between the authorities and the protest movement which began in late September.

Sir Richard accused the Chinese authorities of acting in an “overtly confrontational manner” in blocking the committee’s visit and said that he would be asking Commons Speaker John Bercow for an emergency debate.

“I have been informed by the Chinese embassy that if we attempt to travel to Hong Kong we will be refused entry,” he 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.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The Foreign Affairs Select Committee is independent of the UK Government and is responsible for determining its own programme of inquiries. However, the Chinese government’s message to the FAC that they will be refused entry into Hong Kong is regrettable.

“It is not consistent with the positive trend in UK-China relations over the past year, including the recognition during Premier Li’s visit to London in June that the UK and China have considerable shared interests in respect of Hong Kong.

“Nor is it in the spirit of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, concluded 30 years ago. The FCO has signalled this position to the Chinese at the most senior levels.”

Published: Monday 1st December 2014 by The News Editor

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