THE last British governor of Hong Kong has hit out at “autocratic” China after Beijing restricted freedom in the territory and threatened Taiwan.

In an address earlier this month, Chinese president Xi Jinping called independence for Taiwan, which the Chinese government refuses to recognise, “a dead end”.

Calling for reunification after Taiwan’s near-90 years of practical autonomy, Xi said he would “make no promise to give up the use of military force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means”.

Yesterday, Chris Patten, a Tory peer, said: “There isn’t in human history an example of a democracy agreeing to become part of a tyranny without being obliged to do it.”

Patten led the administration of Hong Kong from 1992-97, during which time the former British colony returned to China.

Xi has suggested the “one country, two systems” approach adopted for the governance of Hong Kong could apply to Taiwan.

However, appearing before an enquiry of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Patten said Beijing had “rolled back” on several aspects of that framework.

He said the region had gone from being “one of the freest cities in Asia” to one where academic freedoms, public protests and human rights had been limited.

He went on: “It’s extraordinary that it has taken an autocratic Chinese government in Beijing to produce an independence movement in Hong Kong. With the colonial oppressors, there was no independence movement.”

Authorities in Hong Kong came under fire in 2014 over the treatment of pro-democracy protestors.

Mainly students, they became known as the Umbrella Movement due to their use of the accessory and were targeted with tear gas, with gangs of unknown men physically attacking peaceful encampments.

Patten, a former European Commissioner, said these protestors had a “real sense of citizenship” and are “very Chinese, very patriotic”, but “believe in the rule of law and in letting people get on with their own lives” and in holding government to account.

Describing the relationship between the UK and China during preparations for the handover of Hong Kong, Patten said there were “practical and moral embarrassments” on both sides.

He stated: “On the Chinese side they were dealing with a territory that had been stolen from them, ripped from them, by colonial powers in the 19th century, unequal treaties and all that.

“There was a huge embarrassment for them because more than half of the population of Hong Kong were refugees from communism in China, who had swum or who had climbed over razorwire.

“It was embarrassing for us because of the history.

“Every other colony or territory which we were responsible for, we would prepare sometimes under duress, for independence.

“We would introduce democratic institutions. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t.

“That was never going to be possible in Hong Kong.”