Beijing pokes back as intel allies slam ouster of four

Top News | Reuters and staff reporters 20 Nov 2020

Beijing yesterday slammed the "Five Eyes" intelligence-sharing alliance and warned it would be "poked blind" if it harms China's sovereignty.

This came after the group - consisting of the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand - urged Beijing to reconsider the disqualification of four Hong Kong lawmakers.

In the Foreign Ministry's daily press conference yesterday, spokesman Zhao Lijian expressed Beijing's strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the group's interference with China's internal affairs.

"China does not make trouble, but we have no fear of trouble," Zhao said.

"We do not care if you have five eyes or 10 eyes, beware that your eyes will be poked blind if you dare to harm China's sovereignty, development interest and national security."

In a statement, Five Eyes said the disqualification of four legislators appeared to be part of a campaign to silence critics and called on Beijing to reverse course.

"We urge the Chinese central authorities to reconsider their actions against Hong Kong's elected legislature and immediately reinstate the Legislative Council members," foreign ministers from the five countries said in the statement.

Four opposition members - Civic Party's Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, Kwok Ka-ki and the Professionals Guild's Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong - were disqualified after being declared unfit for Legco last week, triggering mass resignations by the pro-democracy camp.

"China's action is a clear breach of its international obligations under the legally binding, United Nations-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration," the alliance stressed.

Meanwhile, a chair professor at the University of Science and Technology has clarified the meaning behind her remark, "Hong Kong belongs to the world."

Lee Ching-kwan was recently slammed by state media for promoting Hong Kong independence over the remark, which she made during an online forum hosted by the Hong Kong Democracy Council in May.

She was also said to be a council member and a mastermind behind the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that imposes US sanctions on officials for human rights abuse in the SAR.

Lee said the media distorted the meaning of her remark.

"I consider Hong Kong a global city ... When I said 'Hong Kong belongs to the world,' the word 'belongs' refers to a 'sense of belonging' in terms of Hong Kong's cultural outlook and economic connections with the global community," she said.

"Critics took the word out of context and misinterpreted it in a narrow jurisdictional sense."

Lee also clarified she was no longer a member of the council - from June 30 - the day the national security law took effect.

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