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China condemns US, UK criticism of arrests in Hong Kong

China’s Foreign Ministry has condemned recent remarks by Western officials who criticized the arrest of several protest organizers in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

The Ministry’s spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that China and its territories, including Hong Kong, were ruled by law.

Hong Kong is a society governed by the rule of law and relevant parties must respect this, Geng told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing.

Last week, police in Hong Kong arrested more than a dozen organizers of violent anti-government rallies in Hong Kong last year.

Police said all of those arrested would appear in court in mid-May.

The arrests came after a period of relative calm amid a partial coronavirus lockdown that put a cap on months of anti-government demonstrations and violent rallies in Hong Kong.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “condemned” the arrests on Saturday, calling the individuals detained “pro-democracy advocates.”

“Beijing and its representatives in Hong Kong continue to take actions inconsistent with commitments made under the Sino-British Joint Declaration that include transparency, the rule of law, and guarantees that Hong Kong will continue to ‘enjoy a high degree of autonomy,’” Pompeo said.

Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997.

The city had been rocked by turbulent protests since June last year, when the government of the semi-autonomous territory proposed a bill that would have reformed the city’s extradition law. The bill was later withdrawn, but protests continued and took on violent forms.

The Chinese government says the United States and Britain fanned the flames of the unrest in Hong Kong by supporting the rioters.

More than 7,000 people have been taken into custody for their involvement in the protests since June last year, with many having been charged with rioting, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Following the newer arrests, a British Foreign Office representative also said the UK expected any arrests and trials to be “conducted in a fair and transparent manner.”