The U.K. is heading for a damaging showdown with China.

Best of uk-china relationship

Best of uk-china relationship

The U.K. is heading for a damaging showdown with China as it takes on Beijing over Hong Kong and Huawei Technologies Co.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has criticized Beijing’s planned imposition of a security law on the former British territory of Hong Kong, and is taking steps to exclude Huawei from its fifth-generation mobile networks by lining up potential replacements.

The upshot is that China has become an overriding foreign policy priority of the Johnson

government just as it attempts to reach a deal with the European Union on future relations. It’s a challenge that risks leaving the U.K. out in front on its own, having left the shelter of the bloc of some 450 million people on Jan. 31 to pursue its Brexit ambitions.

China’s Hong Kong representation delivered a clear message to Britain on Wednesday evening to keep its hands off. The U.K. has no power of sovereignty, nor does it have power of governing or “supervision” over Hong Kong after its return to China in 1997, the city’s Office of the Commissioner of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“Hong Kong affairs brook no external interference,” China’s Ambassador to the U.K. Liu Xiaoming said on Twitter, warning U.K. politicians to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”

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