- The UK faces “substantial damage” to its economy if it does not back down to Beijing in a row over Hong Kong, a Chinese state-run newspaper has warned.
- Boris Johnson is preparing to offer visas to millions of Hong Kong residents if China introduces new legislation in the semi-autonomous region which critics fear would remove many of its freedoms.
- ‘Fundamentally speaking, the UK has no trump card regarding the Hong Kong affair, and it would be wrong if the Johnson government intends to play a bluffing game with China,’ The Global Times warned.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A Chinese state-run newspaper has warned that the UK faces “substantial damage” to its economy if Boris Johnson refuses to back down in his threat to offer refuge to millions of Hong Kong citizens.
The prime minister said this week that he would have “no choice” but to offer visas to millions of Hong Kong residents if China introduces new legislation in the region, which critics fear would remove many of its freedoms.
A comment piece in The Global Times, a Chinese state-controlled newspaper, said that the UK had the most to fear from any clash with China.
“British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government may sincerely believe they are battling for their values as they confront China over the national security law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, when in fact they are complicating a much-needed deal, threatening to inflict substantial damage on their own economy,” the editorial stated.
The Global Times is a Chinese tabloid published by the People’s Daily, the newspaper group owned by the ruling Communist Party of China. It has become known for its aggressive editorials which are quoted around the world as the voice of Beijing, even when official statements are more muted.
The piece also raised the prospect of China blocking a free-trade deal with the UK if it did not back down.
“One more thing British politicians may be mistaken about is which country needs the free trade agreement more,’ read the piece, which did not credit an author in its English-language version.
“The coronavirus has hit the UK hard, and it is currently suffering its worst peacetime downturn in centuries.”
It added: “Fundamentally speaking, the UK has no trump card regarding the Hong Kong affair, and it would be wrong if the Johnson government intends to play a bluffing game with China.”
Beijing last week approved new laws which would ban what it calls “subversion, treason, and foreign interference” in Hong Kong, which currently has a separate judicial and political system to mainland China.
Beijing’s attempts to impose itself on the former British colony has prompted significant concerns in the UK government.
Johnson said this week that he was preparing to offer UK visas to millions of Hong Kong residents if China pushed ahead with the plans, warning that it would “dramatically erode” the region’s autonomy.
Writing in The Times of London on Wednesday, the prime minister said he would offer a 12-month extendable visa to all Hong Kong citizens eligible to apply for a British national overseas passport — some 3 million people. That went significantly further than the UK government’s suggestion last week that it would extend visa rights to the about 350,000 holders of the passports.
Britain’s offer has prompted a furious backlash from Beijing. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said in response to the offer that the UK should “step back from the brink” and accused Boris Johnson’s administration of harbouring a “Cold War mentality.”
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