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MP's anger at Hong Kong travel snub

A committee of MPs has been warned that they will be denied entry to Hong Kong if they try to go ahead with a planned visit to the former British colony.

Sir Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said they had been told by the Chinese embassy that they would be turned back if they tried to enter.

The MPs had been planning to visit Hong Kong as part of an inquiry into its relations with the UK 30 years after the joint declaration which led to the handover to China in 1997.

The move comes amid continuing protests by pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong who have been demanding the right to choose their own leaders without interference from Beijing.

Sir Richard accused the Chinese authorities of acting in an "overtly confrontational manner" and said that he would now be pressing for an emergency Commons debate.

"I have been informed by the Chinese embassy that if we attempt to travel to Hong Kong we will be refused entry," he said.

"We are a committee of elected Members of Parliament from a democratic nation who wish to scrutinise British diplomatic work in Hong Kong.

"The Chinese government are acting in an overtly confrontational manner in refusing us access to do our job.

"I shall be asking the Speaker tomorrow to grant an emergency debate on the floor of the House."

The Foreign Office (FCO) said the refusal to allow the committee to visit Hong Hong was "regrettable" and that it had made its view known to the Chinese authorities at "the most senior levels".

"The Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FAC) is independent of the UK Government and is responsible for determining its own programme of inquiries. However, the Chinese government's message to the FAC that they will be refused entry into Hong Kong is regrettable," a spokesman said.

"It is not consistent with the positive trend in UK-China relations over the past year, including the recognition during Premier Li's visit to London in June that the UK and China have considerable shared interests in respect of Hong Kong.

"Nor is it in the spirit of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, concluded 30 years ago. The FCO has signalled this position to the Chinese at the most senior levels.''


From Belfast Telegraph