China's top diplomat in Hong Kong summons US envoy over 'inappropriate' remarks

The US' consul-general in Hong Kong was warned by Chinese authorities “not to endanger China’s national security". PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - China’s top diplomat in Hong Kong recently summoned the US Consul-General to protest against his “inappropriate” remarks and warn him against endangering national security, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Mr Liu Guangyuan, Commissioner of the Chinese foreign affairs ministry in Hong Kong, met US Consul-General Gregory May “days ago”, a spokesman for Mr Liu’s office told AFP.

The meeting was to “lodge solemn representations and express strong disapproval to him and his consulate over their inappropriate words and deeds that interfered in Hong Kong affairs”.

The spokesman did not say exactly when the meeting took place.

The American diplomat took up the posting in September.

During an online event last month, he said his initial impressions of Hong Kong included concerns for the rule of law after the imposition of a national security law, as well as worries about academic freedom and a changing media landscape.

Mr May also said a recent interpretation by Beijing of the national security law that expanded the authority of the Hong Kong government could “undermine the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary”.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Liu’s office accused Mr May of “vilifying Hong Kong’s rule of law and freedom”.

During their meeting, Mr May was further warned “not to endanger China’s national security, not to engage in political infiltration in Hong Kong and not to slander or damage Hong Kong’s development prospects”, the spokesman said.

A spokesman for the US State Department said on Thursday that the consulate in Hong Kong does not comment on private diplomatic meetings.

But the spokesman said “we do not hesitate to express publicly and privately the United States’ deep concern over the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy”.

China imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong after the city was convulsed by huge and often violent democracy protests in 2019.

Washington has sanctioned top Chinese and Hong Kong officials – including city leader John Lee – in response to the security law, which it said had undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy and the rights of its people. AFP

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