LONDON (Reuters) - British lawmakers banned from entering Hong Kong last year said Chinese regulations were eroding freedoms in the former British colony, and urged their government to take a harder stance against Beijing.
Pro-democracy protests shut down parts of Hong Kong for two and a half months last year in response to a decision by China to pre-screen candidates in a 2017 election which will choose the city’s next chief executive.
On Friday a report by British parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee said China’s new nomination process was “unduly restrictive”.
The report highlighted what it called a “troubling pattern” of limitations being imposed on the autonomy and freedoms negotiated for Hong Kong 30 years ago when Britain and China agreed a deal to hand it back to Beijing.
“We are concerned that this high degree of autonomy is coming under pressure, and the FCO (British foreign office) needs to take a clear stand,” said committee chairman Richard Ottaway.
In November the lawmakers found themselves at the center of a diplomatic spat after they were banned from entering Hong Kong to research their report, which is focused on Britain’s relations with its former colony.
“We remain profoundly disappointed with the UK government’s mild response to that unprecedented act, and we think the FCO should be clearer in stating its expectations for Hong Kong’s political and constitutional future,” Ottaway said.
Reporting by William James; Editing by Andrew Heavens