THE sight of China’s vice president at the coronation will be an insult to people fleeing Hong Kong, his last governor said yesterday.
Lord Chris Patten said Beijing’s decision to send Han Zheng – blamed for a crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong – shows it doesn’t “care” about Britain.
Secretary of State James Cleverly was furious for not blocking the visit of the Communist Party politician.
Lord Patten told the BBC: “You cannot ignore the fact that he is there and it is a sting in the face for 140,000 or more Hong Kong exiles here.”
“And I also think it’s a reference to the fact that no matter how much you cringe at China, how hard you try to put a face on them, they don’t bother putting a face on us because they could have sent many other people.
“There’s 1.4 billion of them after all and they’ve decided to send the guy responsible for breaking their word on Hong Kong.”
Mr Han managed Hong Kong affairs for Beijing between 2018 and March this year, during which time the national security law was enforced, opposition was suppressed and dissent was criminalized following mass protests in the city.
The move strained relations with the UK and led to the creation of a visa system allowing Hong Kongers to enter the UK.
The UK says China continues to violate the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that states it has a duty to uphold Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms.
Hong Kong was handed over to China by Britain in 1997, with a promise from Beijing to uphold Western-style freedoms.