China lodges diplomatic protest with US over Pence meeting HK’s publisher to discuss protests

BEIGING, JUL 10

China on Tuesday lodged a diplomatic protest with the US over Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meeting a prominent Hong Kong media publisher during which they discussed the situation in the former British colony in the light of massive anti-Beijing protests.

The move came after Pence and Pompeo met local media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, the founder of Hong Kong media giant Next Digital and the Apple Daily newspaper, which is published in Hong Kong and Taiwan and is known for its pro-democracy stance.

Asked for his reaction to Lai’s meeting with the top US officials, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China is firmly opposed to the meeting as it sent a wrong signal. “We firmly oppose that. We urge the US side to respect the rule of law of Hong Kong and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in whatever form or doing anything to undermine Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” he said.

China’s foreign office in Hong Kong has hit out at Lai’s meetings with US officials, accusing them of threatening China’s national security. In a strongly-worded statement, a spokesman for the central government’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong said Beijing “resolutely opposes foreign forces’ intervention in Hong Kong affairs”.

“(The United States) has repeatedly interfered in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs…” the spokesman said. “The Office has made solemn representations to the US Consulate General in Hong Kong and demanded that the US immediately stop the wrong words and deeds. Don’t keep going farther and farther on this wrong path,” the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

According to the State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus, Pence and Pompeo in their meeting with Lai “discussed developments related to amendments to Hong Kong’s Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the status of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework”.

A spokesman for Beijing’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong said: “We would never sit idly and look on as national sovereignty, security, and the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong are being harmed”.

“The collusion between internal and external forces, in bringing calamity to Hong Kong and its people, is destined not to end well,” the Post quoted the spokesman as saying. In an apparent reference to Lai, the spokesman accused certain individuals in Hong Kong of inviting foreign interference.

“They are willing to act as a political tool for foreign powers to oppose China and cause chaos in Hong Kong… Their ugly face and despicable acts would be despised by all Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots.

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