A statement from a person identified as the principal official in the Office of the Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region rebuffed former British governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten and urged him to respect the facts, know his place and stop telling blatant lies and putting on ridiculous performances.
"Time keeps moving on, but Mr Patten has stood pat, indulging in the faded glory of colonialism and refusing to face the reality that it has been 22 years since Hong Kong's return to its motherland," the unnamed official said in the statement on Saturday.
Responding to Patten's remarks about Hong Kong in an earlier media report, the official said that it is shameless and absurd for Patten, who was not democratically elected, to picture himself as a "guardian" of human rights and freedoms.
In a signed article published in the Financial Times on Friday, Patten wrote that "the UK has every right to discuss with China what is happening in its former colony", and "freedom of speech has been whittled away" in Hong Kong.
The statement said Hong Kong people didn't enjoy any freedom or democracy during the 150 years it was under British colonial rule. Instead, "Hong Kong people, once 'second-class citizens' during the colonial period, have stood up as their own masters with unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms in accordance with law," it said.
Hong Kong now has an economy twice the size that of 1997 and has ranked as the world's most free economy for more than 20 consecutive years. Hong Kong ranked 16th for its rule of law in 2018, up from below 60th in 1996 under British rule, it said. "These are facts that not even Mr Patten can deny," the statement concluded.
On July 1, Hong Kong and the international community witnessed violent protests against an extradition bill, including protesters storming and vandalizing the building of the city's legislature. Patten, however, "turned a blind eye to the violent crime and tried every means to justify the offenders", the statement said.
"Such condoning of violence is an assault on the rule of law in Hong Kong, in total disregard of the rights and security of the vast majority of Hong Kong residents. It shows not the least sense of justice or morality," the statement said. It also reiterated that the Sino-British Joint Declaration, often cited by Patten to pressure the Hong Kong SAR and China, became null when Hong Kong returned to the motherland on July 1, 1997.
The official criticized Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong, for "overreaching himself and putting up desperate attempts to cause trouble for the Hong Kong SAR and China at large" for years.
On Sunday afternoon, a group of demonstrators opposed to the now-suspended extradition bill launched a protest march from Tsim Sha Tsui to the West Kowloon high-speed rail station.
The bill, which was intended to plug legal loopholes in Hong Kong's handling of fugitives, was suspended by the government on June 15. In the weeks since, the city has seen its people divided over the issue, as well as protests that frequently involved violence.
The police have arrested a number of people in connection with the violence and other unlawful acts carried out during recent protests.
Secretary for Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said on Sunday in a blog post that comments and opinions expressed in the community would not affect the Department of Justice in discharging its prosecutorial duties.