China slams UK Foreign Minister’s ‘fact-distorting’ remarks on trial of 12 Hong Kongers

China on Tuesday reacted sharply to the UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab’s remarks on the case of 12 Hong Kongers facing charges for illegal border crossing and urged London to stop interfering in China’s internal matters, the CGTN reported

On Monday, Raab expressed concerns that the Hong Kongers were tried in secret in Shenzhen and asked China to “conduct trials in a fair and transparent manner.”

His remarks come after the much-anticipated trial of 12 Hong Kong fugitives intercepted at sea by the Chinese coastguard while fleeing to Taiwan, was held.

The 12 suspects were detained in August when they were trying to flee to Taiwan.
Enraged by Raab’s remarks, the Chinese embassy claimed that the case was given an open trial of the first instance at the People’s Court of Yantian District in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.

The embassy deemed Raab’s remarks as “fact-distorting” and called the UK Government to take concrete steps to abide by international law and the basic norms governing international relations, and stop interfering immediately in Hong Kong affairs, China’s internal affairs and China’s judicial sovereignty, the embassy said.

Eleven out of 12 Hong Kongers, aged 16 to 33, have been already charged in Hong Kong with offences related to the last year-anti-government protests.

On August 23, the 12 boarded a speedboat at the pier of Po Toi O, a nondescript village in Sai Kung, and headed towards Taiwan.

However, their vessel was intercepted by the Chinese coastguard. They were arrested and have been detained ever since at the Yantian district detention centre in Shenzhen, a mainland city just across the border from Hong Kong.

Following almost three months of detention, Shenzhen police announced in late November that they had completed their investigation into the cases and handed the case over to prosecutors.

The Yantian People’s Procuratorate confirmed on December 16 that 10 would face charges, while closed-door hearings would be held to decide how to deal with the other two, who are underage.

Despite information from the court last week that the trial would be held behind closed doors, staff maintained on Monday that it was in fact open to the public – before immediately noting that the gallery was full. As such, a group of diplomats from Britain, the US, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Canada who had come to observe the trial were instead left to wait outside the court entrance.

Prior to the hearing, the US embassy in Beijing called for the detainees’ release, saying their only “so-called ‘crime’ was to flee tyranny”. Hitting back, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Washington had “ignored the facts, and mixed up right and wrong”.

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