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Boris Johnson said the Beijing regime had failed to respect a “one country, two systems” deal agreed to end British colonial rule in 1997.

Britain has been very critical of a national security law imposed in 2020 and electoral changes said to erode local freedoms and autonomy.

The PM said: “On the 25th anniversary of the handover, we simply cannot avoid the fact that, for some time now, Beijing has been failing to comply with its obligations .

“It’s a state of affairs that threatens both the rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers and the continued progress and prosperity of their home.”

President Xi Jinping was in Hong Kong on his first trip out of mainland China in more than two years.

He claimed Beijing’s version of one country, two systems “has been tested and proved time and again, and there is no reason to change such a good system”.

He said it had the “endorsement” of residents and “widespread approval” internationally, and that Hong Kong’s “true democracy began” when it was returned to China.

In response to Mr Johnson’s comments, the Chinese foreign ministry accused the UK of retaining a colonial mindset.

It said: “The United Kingdom has no right of sovereignty, governance, or supervision over post-handover Hong Kong, and the so-called commitments do not exist at all.”

Meanwhile, vans were driven in London’s Chinatown with handover protest messages.

One said “(Failed) Handover,” another had bars imposed over a figure and the Chinese flag while another had “Years Since”.

After the national security law, Britain created an immigration route for holders of British National (overseas) passports last year. Mr Johnson said 120,000 Hong Kongers had applied.

The PM said: “We’re not giving up on Hong Kong. Twenty-five years ago we made a promise to the territory and its people, and we intend to keep it.”

He added that Britain would “do all we can to hold China to its commitments, so that Hong Kong is once again run by the people of Hong Kong, for the people of Hong Kong”.

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