Hong Kong ban a ‘setback’ in UK-China relations

China has barred U.K. lawmakers from visiting protest-hit Hong Kong, in what the chair of the Britain's Foreign Affairs Committee branded a "setback" for Anglo-Chinese relations.

Richard Ottoway and his colleagues at the Foreign Affairs Committee had planned to visit the foremer U.K. colony to investigate pro-democracy protestors' complaints. However, China has warned that the visitors would be banned from entering Hong Kong.

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Ottoway told CNBC that China's move was detrimental to diplomatic relations, which had been on an improving trend since a low point in 2012 when the U.K. Prime Minister offended Chinese leaders by meeting with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

"Since then we've had a fairly good direction of travel and trajectory (in Anglo-Chinese relations), and I think now is a setback," Ottoway told CNBC on Monday.

"I'm pressing very much the British government over here to be more forthcoming in their response to this development."

Hong Kong is in the grip of violent protests, in what may be the biggest challenge to China's Communist Party since the infamous crackdown of 1989 in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. On Monday, police charged with batons and pepper sprayed thousands of pro-democracy protestors as they tried to encircle Hong Kong government headquarters.

Protestors are demanding free elections for Hong Kong's next leader in 2017, rather than a vote between candidates endorsed by the Communist Party.

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Ottoway said the candidate list was "packed out with Beijing placements," in violation of the Hong Kong handover agreement struck between China and the U.K. 17 years ago.

He noted however that the U.K. had no legal right to challenge breaches to the agreement.

"All we can do is note the direction of travel of China here. The important thing to remember here is that China is a member of the G-20, a paid-up member of the international community, and this is not the sort of behaviour we expect from G-20 partners," said Ottoway.

"I think just taking note of some of these decisions gives up an idea of how we should behave when it comes to future negotiations," he added.

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