Consulate slams China retaliatory move

Top News | Wallis Wang 7 Oct 2020

The US consulate has condemned China's new restrictions on its consul general's engagements with local officials and says Beijing's move disregards its promises to Hongkongers and is harmful to all sides.

The restrictions include consul general Hanscom Smith needing to first obtain approval from the foreign ministry before meeting with SAR government officials.

"As in the past, staff from the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices in the United States are free to meet with anyone without approval," the consulate said.

"The retaliatory inclusion of the US consulate general in Hong Kong in recent restrictions issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - as well as reports that [Beijing] instructed the Hong Kong government not to meet with American diplomats - show [China's] disregard for its own promises to the people of Hong Kong, individual freedoms and diplomatic norms."

It added that the restrictions showed Beijing's failure to live up to the one country, two systems commitment, which Hong Kong has benefited from for many years.

"For years, mainland authorities have imposed barriers on American diplomats in mainland China," the consulate said.

"Attempts by US diplomats to host cultural events, meet officials and other counterparts and to visit university campuses are routinely impeded by [China]."

The Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong yesterday condemned the US statement and urged Washington "stop the poor show in which the real culprits call themselves victims."

A spokesman said: "The countermeasure taken by China is a legitimate response to the bullying acts conducted by the US, aiming to urge the US to stop setting up barriers for the communication and cooperation between the two countries. It has nothing to do with Hongkongers' rights and freedom."

The Hong Kong government said last night it would fully facilitate Beijing's countermeasures against the United States.

Washington introduced new requirements on Chinese diplomats in the United States in response to Beijing's unjustified and wide-ranging restrictions on American officials, the consulate said.

Early last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Chinese diplomats in the US would have to seek approval from the State Department before they could meet with local government officials or visit university campuses.

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