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Britain concerned over China moves in Hong Kong

LONDON: Britain urged Beijing to refrain from undermining confidence in Hong Kong’s autonomy after China effectively barred two pro-independence lawmakers from the city s legislature on Monday.

Britain said the prosperity and stability of its former colony depended on upholding the “one country, two systems” deal agreed between London and Beijing before the city was handed over to China in 1997.

 Under the 1984 Joint Declaration between Britain and China, which set out the terms of the handover, Hong Kong enjoys greater liberties than seen on the Chinese mainland, enshrined in a mini-constitution known as the Basic Law.

Beijing s move Monday prompted one Hong Kong legislator to pronounce that rule of law in the city was “dead”.

It is the latest chapter of political turmoil for the semi-autonomous territory as fears grow that China is tightening its grip.

Hong Kong is bracing for a backlash as Beijing said it will not allow the two lawmakers to be sworn into office.

“We are concerned by recent developments in the Legislative Council,” a spokeswoman for Britain s Foreign Office told AFP in reference to Hong Kong s main lawmaking chamber.

“While we recognise the National People s Congress Standing Committee s authority to interpret the Basic Law, by its decision to issue an opinion at this time, we urge the Chinese and Hong Kong special administrative region governments, and all elected politicians in Hong Kong to refrain from any actions that fuel concerns or undermine confidence in the  One Country, Two Systems  principle.

“Hong Kong s prosperity and stability depends on its successful implementation, as provided for by the Joint Declaration and Basic Law. –  (AFP)