Beijing’s foreign ministry office in HK accuses US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of threatening city with autonomy remarks

23-May-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Beijing’s foreign affairs arm in Hong Kong on Thursday accused the United States’ top diplomat of threatening the city following his remarks that it was “difficult to assess” whether the city remains highly autonomous from mainland China.

The office also condemned Chris Patten, the city’s last colonial governor, “to everlasting infamy” for his criticism of a report by a police watchdog into the force’s handling of the anti-government protests last year.

A spokesman for the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned “ungrounded allegations and unreasonable pressure” from American politicians, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“They are unwilling to see the torn-apart Hong Kong society heal and get back on track,” he said. “Their evil hearts are laid bare.”

The statement came a day after Pompeo attacked Beijing for its policies on health, defence, Taiwan and 5G and its “brutal” regime, and expressed Washington’s concern over certifying Hong Kong’s degree of autonomy.

Under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, the US has until the end of this month to assess whether the city remains suitably autonomous from the mainland under the “one country, two systems” framework, a prerequisite for extending Hong Kong’s preferential US trading and investment privileges.

The act, which came amid the protests in the city last year, also allows for sanctions against officials deemed to have violated human rights.

Pompeo said former opposition lawmaker Martin Lee Chu-ming and media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, who were among 15 activists arrested last month on suspicion of organising and taking part in unauthorised assemblies last year, were “hauled into court”.

He said opposition lawmakers were “manhandled” during a Legislative Council meeting this week, with an apparent reference to a session last Monday which saw their pro-establishment rivals seize control of an influential legislative committee amid clashes. “Actions like these make it more difficult to assess that Hong Kong remains highly autonomous from mainland China,” Pompeo said.

The office said the US official was interfering in China’s internal affairs by leveraging the act as a threat against the city’s government.

“We have to tell Pompeo, you cannot scare Hongkongers who firmly uphold one country, two systems and the 1.4 billion Chinese people who are banded together,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, in another statement titled “Chris Patten will be condemned to everlasting infamy”, the office accused the former governor of inciting the public to confront police.

It took aim at remarks Patten made on Wednesday, in which he hit out at a fact-finding report by the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC).

The report has been slammed by opposition lawmakers and human rights watchers after it concluded there was no systemic problem with policing in the city, and said any use of force was only in response to violence during the protests.

“To finish up with an IPCC report, which just divides the community even more, really is a blow to the hope we all have on a return to normality,” Patten said in an online seminar.

“In Hong Kong, normality is a situation in which people can express their views if they choose to do so and not be run off the streets.”

The office said Patten had “eagerly twisted the truth” and “venomously attacked the Hong Kong police’s restrained law enforcement efforts in a bid to sow social division and trample law and order”.

“[Patten] has and will continue to be condemned by the international community, and will only end up as a historical notoriety,” the office said.


Category: China

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