BEIJING (Reuters) – China issued a formal complaint to Britain on Wednesday after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg met pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong campaigning against Beijing’s tightening control of the former British territory.
Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one-country, two-systems” deal ensuring it a high degree of autonomy. But pro-democracy campaigners have warned of the erosion of the city’s freedoms and are pushing for the direct election of its leader by universal suffrage in 2017.
Clegg’s office said he met veteran activists Anson Chan and Martin Lee on Tuesday, with Chan and Lee raising concerns over China’s jurisdiction of the region, and questioning Britain’s commitment to Hong Kong’s democratic development.
Asked about the meeting, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China was firmly opposed to any foreign interference in its internal affairs on any pretext.
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