China is cautioning the United States not to meddle in Hong Kong's political affairs. The message came as prominent democracy activists from the territory prepare to visit Washington.
China said Tuesday it opposes plans by two Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers to brief the United States Senate about political developments in the territory.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao says what happens in Hong Kong is not Washington's concern. Mr. Liu says Hong Kong affairs are internal matters, and China opposes interference in internal matters.
Legislators Martin Lee and James To are scheduled to leave Wednesday for the United States. They are members of a group called "the Hong Kong Alliance of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China." On Sunday, China singled out the group as "unpatriotic." China says members of the group have colluded with pro-independence factions in Taiwan, and stirred up trouble with calls for expanded voting rights in Hong Kong.
Beijing administers Hong Kong under the framework known as "One Country, Two Systems." It entitles Hong Kong residents to significantly more freedom of speech, assembly, and movement than citizens of mainland China.
But recently, Chinese leaders have taken a harder line about Hong Kong's political system, saying that only "patriots," as Beijing calls them, are fit to run the territory.
Separately, China criticized a human rights report issued last week by the U.S. government. The annual report criticized China and nearly 200 other countries for denying civil liberties to citizens.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu says Beijing supports international dialogue, not accusations and pressure:
Mr. Liu says the United States should carefully examine the situation within its own territory, with regard to human rights.
China issued its own human rights report this week. It criticizes the United States for poor treatment of the elderly and ethnic minorities. It also points to civilian deaths in the U.S. military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.