CHINA has chillingly vowed revenge on Britain over a move to allow three million Hong Kong citizens to flee the city to the UK.
Beijing’s embassy in London branded the offer a breach of international law while warning it will reserve the right to hit back.
In a statement, it said: “If the British side makes unilateral changes to the relevant practice, it will breach its own position and pledges as well as international law and basic norms governing international relations.
“We firmly oppose this and reserve the right to take corresponding measures.
“We urge the British side to view objectively and fairly the national security legislation for Hong Kong, respect China’s position and concerns, refrain from interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any way.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab – who unveiled the “escape” offer to British Nationals Overseas (BNOs) – last night admitted there would be little the UK could do if China prevented people trying to leave Hong Kong.
The diplomatic spat came after hundreds of protesters were arrested as riot cops in the colony clashed with locals over a hardline new “police state” security bill.
Meanwhile, Australia’s prime minister said he was also considering offering a safe haven for Hong Kongers.
Scott Morrison said: “The basic law and the safeguards that were put in place with the handover, we would expect to be upheld. I think that’s a very reasonable position and a very consistent position for the government.
“We are considering very actively and there are proposals that I asked to be brought forward several weeks ago.”
One policeman was allegedly stabbed by a protester as the sweeping and repressive new Chinese security laws came into place yesterday.
Protesters have been out on the streets in defiance of China, which just passed a law banning protests and demonstrations in the semi-autonomous city.
Hundreds of people – including a 15-year-old girl who was waving a flag calling for independence – were arrested as cops used water cannons and tear gas to try and drive protesters back.
One police officer was pictured with a blood soaked shirt after someone put an approximately one inch gash in his left shoulder.
HK Police posted pictures on Twitter of the officer being given stitches, saying he was stabbed by “rioters holding sharp objects.”
Hong Kong police fired water cannon and tear gas on Wednesday to break up the first protest since China introduced sweeping security legislation.
Hundreds of arrests have been made, their first under the new legislation while warning of punishment for calling for secession or subversion.
The new law makes secessionist, subversive, or terrorist activities illegal.
Anyone taking part in pro-independence activities, such as shouting slogans or holding up banners and flags, is in violation of the law.
A man was detained for carrying a flag that called for independence, while a woman was also held for carrying a sign bearing the same message with a British flag.
Beijing only unveiled the details of the much-anticipated law late on Tuesday after weeks of uncertainty and years of public protest and international condemnation.
The former British territory is China’s freest city and one of the world’s most glittering financial hubs.
However, the new law will punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
It will also see mainland security agencies in Hong Kong for the first time and allow for extradition to the mainland for trial.
Wednesday saw thousands of protesters gathering downtown for an annual rally marking the anniversary of the handover to China in 1997.
“You are displaying flags or banners/chanting slogans/or conducting yourselves with an intent such as secession or subversion, which may constitute offenses under the national security law,” police said in a message displayed on a purple banner.
Riot police used pepper spray and fired pellets as they made arrests after crowds spilled out into the streets chanting “resist till the end” and “Hong Kong independence”.
Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, said the law was the most important development since the city’s return to Chinese rule.
“It is also an inevitable and prompt decision to restore stability,” Lam said at the harbour-front venue where 23 years ago the last colonial governor, Chris Patten, a staunch critic of the security law, tearfully handed back Hong Kong to Chinese rule.
Some pro-Beijing officials and political commentators say the law is aimed at sealing Hong Kong’s “second return” to the motherland after the first failed to bring residents to heel.
The move is a massive spit in the face of the British, who have promised refuge and citizenship to three million Hong Kong citizens if China strips them of their autonomy.
Beijing has previously blasted the British offer as “Cold War mentality”.