Britain urged an independent investigation into the violence against protesters in Hong Kong opposed to a bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial, warning on Tuesday that the fate of its former colony would be a litmus test for China.
The future of Hong Kong was a litmus test for China, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Tuesday, following protests in the former British colony against a bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.
Millions of people have clogged the streets of the Asian financial centre this month to rally against the bill, which would allow people to be extradited to the mainland to face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.
Hong Kong police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators who threw plastic bottles.
Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday banned sales of tear gas and other crowd control equipment to Hong Kong because of the violent crackdown on civil rights protesters.
The Foreign Secretary announced export licenses would not be approved until concerns about human rights abuses were “thoroughly addressed”.
"I today urge the Hong Kong ... government to establish a robust, independent investigation into the violent scenes that we saw," he said in parliament.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, since when it has been governed under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows it freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including the freedom to protest and a much-cherished independent judiciary.
"We will stand by that agreement and we expect China to do the same," Hunt said.
"What happens in Hong Kong is, I think for all of us, a litmus test of the direction of travel that China goes in."