China says G7 concern over Hong Kong leader selection is interference

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FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam holds a new conference with Chief Executive-elect John Lee, in Hong Kong

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Tuesday that an expression of concern by the Group of Seven industrialised nations over the selection process for Hong Kong’s new chief executive was interference in China’s internal affairs.

The G7 said on Monday that the selection process for a new chief executive in Hong Kong was a source of grave concern and underscored wider worries about fundamental freedoms in the former British colony.

“Certain Western countries and institutions have colluded to maliciously smear Hong Kong’s election of its chief executive, a wanton interference in China’s internal affairs which China is resolutely opposed to and strongly condemns,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman at the foreign ministry, told a regular news conference.

Zhao said such countries chose to disregard improvements in Hong Kong’s democracy.

He also criticised countries that “use the tone of a teacher of democracy to lecture on the democratic election in China’s Hong Kong”, adding that “relevant countries and institutions should respect China’s sovereignty”.

The G7 includes France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States.

Hong Kong’s leader-in-waiting, John Lee, was endorsed for the city’s top job on Sunday by a committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists, as the financial hub attempts to relaunch itself after several years of political upheaval.

(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Robert Birsel)