China warns France after remarks by Jean-Yves Le Drian

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China warns France after remarks by Jean-Yves Le Drian


Before the Senate, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday that France was not going to remain inactive on the Hong Kong question.



© afp.com/LUDOVIC MARIN
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian leaves the Elysée Palace on December 11, 2019 in Paris.


Tension is mounting between the two countries. China issued a warning to France on Thursday following an intervention by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, which announced “measures” in reaction to Beijing’s policy towards Hong Kong. “The business of Hongkong are in the internal affairs of China and no country has the right to interfere, “Chinese diplomatic spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in the press.

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Beijing last week imposed a national security law in Hong Kong, which aims to suppress subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, in response to the protest launched last year against the central government in the former British colony.

The Drian evokes “measures”

It constitutes the most radical change for Hong Kong since its return by the United Kingdom to China in 1997. Pro-democracy activists fear an unprecedented erosion of freedoms and autonomy in the territory. Before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Jean-Yves Le Drian said Wednesday that France was not going to remain inactive on the Hong Kong question.

“We are considering measures that I will have to disseminate when the time comes,” he added, stressing that he wanted to do so in “coordination” with other European countries. “There is really a break from the basic law of 1997, from the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ (…) so we are not going to stay like that,” insisted the minister. In response, the Chinese spokesman said he hoped that “some countries” would exercise “prudence in words as in actions” and act “in a more positive way for the stability of Hong Kong”.

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Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated his remarks during a joint press briefing midday Thursday in Paris at Quai d’Orsay with his Spanish counterpart Arancha Gonzalez: “This security law is a very serious act which in our view questions the 1997 Basic Law which validated Hong Kong’s form of autonomy under the reference “one country two systems +”.

The EU behind on this dossier

“From the moment there is this questioning of the fundamentals of justice, we consider that these principles are also called into question”, he continued, adding: “moreover, our own nationals can themselves even be victims of these new provisions. ” “We will have the opportunity to talk about this issue in the EU on Monday” during a meeting of the foreign ministers of the European Union in Brussels, the French minister added.

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For his part, Arancha Gonzalez estimated Thursday at the press conference that “the rules of the game, it is a country of two systems”. “It seems important to us that this system is preserved in these conditions and in its daily implementation,” she added.

The European Union has remained very measured on this issue for the time being, unlike the United States and the United Kingdom. She called on China “to avoid any action that would undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy” but said there was no response. The United States, however, threatened Beijing with further reprisals after having already revoked Hong Kong’s preferential trade status in May. London, for its part, has decided to facilitate Hong Kong citizens’ access to British citizenship, an announcement qualified by Beijing as “gross interference”.

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