“This decision is especially disturbing because it mirrors problems faced by international journalists in the mainland and appears inconsistent with the principles enshrined in the Basic Law,” he wrote in an email.

Locally, questions over the expulsion could distract from Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s annual policy address to Hong Kong lawmakers on Wednesday. Thus far she has not commented on the decision.

Some pro-Beijing politicians have endorsed the visa decision. Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong’s representative on the standing committee of China’s National People’s Congress, said Monday on a radio show that the expulsion would not affect media freedom in Hong Kong, and warned that those who raise the issue of Hong Kong independence do so “at their own risk,” the Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK reported.

The Communist Party-owned newspaper Global Times said that the expulsion, if it was related to the talk, was a sign that the event was a “political provocation that goes far beyond the scope of freedom of speech.”

“Without Mallet, Hong Kong won’t have any less freedom of speech,” the newspaper said in an editorial. “The city’s future doesn’t need to be the concern of Mallet, the U.K. government or Western media.”

China’s Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong said Saturday that visa questions “fall within a country’s sovereignty” and that the central government firmly supports the Hong Kong government “in handling the related matters in accordance with law.”

“No country has the right to interfere,” the statement added.

Last month, after the United States ordered representatives for China’s state-run news media to register as foreign agents, China accused the United States of obstructing and politicizing the media.

“Countries should perceive media’s role in promoting international exchange and cooperation in an open and inclusive spirit,” said the Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. “They need to facilitate, rather than obstruct, media’s normal work, still less politicalizing the relevant issue.”

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