June 25, 2019 / 11:11 AM / 3 months ago

Britain says Hong Kong fate is a litmus test for China

LONDON, June 25 (Reuters) - Britain said on Tuesday the future of Hong Kong was a litmus test for China and urged an independent investigation into the violence that followed protests in the former British colony against a bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Millions have taken to the streets of Hong Kong to protest against a bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial, plunging the city into political crisis and posing a grave challenge to Communist Party rulers in Beijing.

“The fundamental freedoms of Hong Kong are what have made it such a stunning success since 1997 and indeed before 1997 - anything that contradicted the letter or spirit of the basic law that preserves them should not happen,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in parliament.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, since when it has been governed under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows it freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including freedom to protest and a much-cherished independent judiciary.

“We will stand by that agreement and we expect China to do the same,” Hunt said. “What happens in Hong Kong is, I think for all of us, a litmus test of the direction of travel that China goes in.” (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison)

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