CHINA has vowed to punish the UK for appearing to side with Hong Kong citizens and offering three million of them an escape route away from Beijing's current 'stranglehold'.
Just hours after Britain described China's methods of dealing with dissenting Hong Kongers as 'grave and deeply disturbing', Beijing's embassy in London struck back, denouncing Britain's offer to house 3 million Hong Kong citizens as a breach of international law.
"We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures," the Chinese embassy said in a statement.
"We urge the British side to view objectively and fairly the national security legislation for Hong Kong, respect China's position and concerns, refrain from interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any way."
Hong Kong Protests
The situation in Hong Kong has been escalating rapidly since June 2019 as citizens grow uneasy with China's involvement in their judicial proceedings and demand full democratic status.
These concerns were particularly exacerbated following the announcement this week of Hong Kong's new security law - imposed by China - which gives Beijing legislative powers over the people of Hong Kong it's never had before.
Police began their new crackdown on dissent yesterday, rounding up hundreds of pro-democracy activists, using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue protesters, on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the former colony's return to Chinese rule.
Why has Britain offered 3 million citizens an escape route?
Hong Kong was ruled by Britain until 1997 when it was returned to China, under the "one country, two systems" arrangement.
Before the handover, Hong Kongers could register for BNO (British National Overseas) status, which gave them access to a British passport but not an automatic right to live and work in the UK.
Because the UK government predicts that roughly 2.9 million Hong Kongers have BNO status, they made an offer to house 3 million of them amidst the current political turmoil.
Ten people have been officially arrested under Hong Kong's new security law, including one man accused of stabbing a police officer who was arrested on board a flight that was about to take off for London last night.
The New Security Law
The new law is controversial because it appears to undermine Hong Kong's autonomy and right to self-govern.
The "one country, two systems" arrangement agreed in 1997 was supposed to guarantee citizens of Hong Kong rights such as free speech and an independent judiciary, but this law casts much of that into doubt.
It allows for lengthy prisons sentences for the subjective crimes of 'conspiring against China' and 'provoking hatred of the Chinese government', and fears are growing that the governing Communist party are simply trying to establish complete authority over the territory.
It also allows for some trials to be held in secret and others to held without a jury, while judges can be handpicked by Hong Kong's chief executive, who is answerable directly to Beijing.