China on Tuesday slammed UK Foreign Minister, Dominic Raab, for his comments on the trial of 12 Hong Kongers facing charges for alleged illegal border crossing, the CGTN reported.
The ‘Hong Kong 12′ fugitives, whose trial elicited the comments, were intercepted at sea by the Chinese coastguards while fleeing to Taiwan, and have been detained since August.
Raab had on Monday expressed concerns that the “Hong Kong 12” were tried in secret in Shenzhen and asked China to “conduct trials in a fair and transparent manner.”
Enraged by Raab’s remarks, the Chinese embassy in Hong Kong urged London to stop interfering in Beijing’s internal matters.
Beijing claimed that the defendants were 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.
China also urged the UK to stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, China’s internal affairs and China’s judicial sovereignty.
Eleven of the 12 defendants, aged 16 to 33, have been charged already in Hong Kong with offences related to last year’s anti-government protests.
The 12 persons boarded a speedboat on Aug. 23 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 later detained 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 late November that they had completed their investigation into the cases and handed them over to prosecutors.
The prosecutors confirmed on Dec.16 that 10 of them would face charges, while closed-door hearings would be held to decide how to deal with the other two, who were underaged.
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.
However it was later observed that the court’s gallery was full.
As such, a group of diplomats from Britain, the U.S., 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 trial, the U.S. embassy in Beijing had 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.”