HONG KONG • Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has rejected US Senator Ted Cruz's claim that she cancelled a meeting with him because he refused to meet under "closed-door" terms.
In a statement issued on Sunday night, a spokesman for Mrs Lam said the Republican lawmaker's assertion that demonstrators had acted non-violently in the last five months of protests was "baffling".
"While we respect the freedom of speech of foreign politicians, we consider that comments should be based on facts," the statement said.
Mr Cruz, one of China's most vocal critics in the US Senate, is the most prominent American politician to visit the territory since the protest movement began in June.
He said Mrs Lam scrapped their scheduled meeting last Saturday when he refused to keep their discussions confidential.
Mrs Lam's spokesman said the meeting had to be cancelled as another commitment had come up.
The senator from Texas met protest leaders last Saturday to encourage them to continue their cause in a non-violent manner.
Mr Cruz told reporters later that "the Chinese Communist Party very much wants to characterise these protests as violent acts of terrorism rather than democracy protesters standing up for human rights". In her statement, Mrs Lam said media outlets have clearly shown that anti-government protesters "conducted violent and vandalistic acts on many occasions".
The Senate will vote this month on a Bill, championed by Mr Cruz, that requires the US to annually assess Hong Kong's autonomy from China as a precondition to its special economic status.
Another of the Bill's supporters, Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, was in Hong Kong over the weekend to observe the protests. He said yesterday that the city is "sliding towards becoming a police state".
DPA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE