China accused Britain on Saturday of making false accusations, engaging in "wanton stigmatisation," and conducting arbitrary arrests following the unexplained death of a man charged with

illegally assisting Hong Kong's foreign intelligence service.

In a statement on its website, China’s foreign ministry office in Hong Kong strongly condemned Britain, asserting that these false accusations against Chinese citizens infringe upon their lawful rights.

The ministry described Britain's actions as "a wanton stigmatisation of China and arbitrary arrests and prosecutions of Chinese citizens in the United Kingdom."

Tensions between Beijing and London have been escalating since China's broad national security crackdown in 2019, which followed pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, a former British colony handed back to Beijing in 1997.

Matthew Trickett, 37, a former Royal Marine who worked as an immigration officer and private investigator, was found dead in a park in west London on Sunday.

Trickett had been granted bail along with Chung Biu Yuen, 63, an office manager at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London, and Chi Leung Wai, 38, also known as Peter Wai, who works as a UK Border Force officer.

The three were charged with assisting a foreign intelligence service between December and May by "agreeing to undertake information gathering, surveillance, and acts of deception" in Britain.

On Thursday, China began simulating attacks with bombers and practiced boarding ships.

Hong Kong's Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Algernon Yau, met with Britain's deputy consul-general, urging Britain to inform the public "about the truth" concerning Trickett's death, according to Yau's department on Thursday.

Yuen and Wai, who have not yet entered pleas, were informed by Judge Jeremy Baker that their trial, expected to last five weeks, is set for February, with their next court appearance scheduled for October 25. Photo by Security Service, Wikimedia commons.