'Purely internal affairs': China slams G7 statement on Hong Kong

Beijing voices 'strong dissatisfaction' with joint statement issued by G7 leaders backing Hong Kong's autonomy.

    Over 700 demonstrators have been arrested since protests began in Hong Kong more than two months ago [Kin Cheung/AP]
    Over 700 demonstrators have been arrested since protests began in Hong Kong more than two months ago [Kin Cheung/AP]

    China has voiced "strong dissatisfaction" with a joint statement issued by the G7 leaders supporting Hong Kong's autonomy and called for calm after months of pro-democracy protests.

    "We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the statement made by the leaders of the G7 summit on Hong Kong affairs," said foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing.

    "We have repeatedly stressed that Hong Kong's affairs are purely China's internal affairs and that no foreign government, organisation or individual has the right to intervene."

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    On Monday, G7 leaders meeting in France backed Hong Kong's autonomy as laid out in a 1984 agreement between Britain and China, and called for calm in the protest-hit city. 

    But Beijing accused foreign governments of interfering. Spokesman Geng said the G7 was "meddling" and "harbouring evil intentions".

    Hong Kong has been wracked by more than two months of protests over an attempt by its Beijing-backed government to pass an extradition bill which opponents saw as a huge dent in the city's autonomy.

    It has since morphed into a wider call for greater democratic freedoms, forcing China to grapple with its biggest political crisis since Hong Kong's handover to Beijing in 1997.

    So far, Beijing has not intervened over unrest in the semi-autonomous city, despite ramping up the rhetoric against demonstrators and mounting fears that they may act militarily to quell the violence.

    'Violence becoming more serious'

    Earlier on Tuesday, Hong Kong's embattled chief executive Carrie Lam said that the anti-government protests had turned more serious, but the government was confident it could handle the crisis on its own.

    Lam was speaking in public for the first time since demonstrations escalated on Sunday, when police used water cannon and volleys of tear gas on protesters, who threw bricks and petrol bombs.

    "We should prepare for reconciliation in society by communicating with different people ... We want to put an end to the chaotic situation in Hong Kong," she said.

    Lam said the government had "zero tolerance" for violence and would follow up on "all illegal activities".

    Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Hong Kong, said there was no sign that Lam would give in to the demands of the protesters, including the opening of an independent inquiry into the conduct of the police.

    The chief executive rejected the proposal, saying the time was not right while violence on the streets continued, Hay said.

    More demonstrations have been planned in the coming days, posing a direct challenge to Beijing in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1.

    More than 700 people have been arrested since the demonstrations began over now-suspended legislation that would make it easier for authorities to extradite people from the former British colony to mainland China.

    The demonstrations evolved over 12 weeks into a broad demand for greater democracy under the "one country, two systems" formula following Hong Kong's handover to China by Britain in 1997.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies