China says the United States is “blackmailing” Hong Kong by invoking domestic legislation and threatening to end the US’s especial treatment of the Chinese territory over its treatment of violent anti-government protesters.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed on Wednesday that the treatment of what he called activists in Hong Kong complicated the assessment of whether the territory remained highly autonomous, a requirement for special treatments the city gets under the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s office of the commissioner to Hong Kong said in a statement that Pompeo’s assertion would not scare the Chinese people and that Beijing would safeguard its sovereignty, security, and development interests.
The spokesperson added that the act was domestic law of the United States and Pompeo’s remarks were in contempt of Hong Kong’s legislative and judicial bodies.
China is determined to implement the “one country, two systems” policy with regards to Hong Kong and opposes any external interference in Hong Kong’s affairs, the spokesperson said.
The semi-autonomous Chinese territory was rocked by turbulent protests starting in June last year, when some people began protesting against a proposed extradition bill across the city. The proposal has since been withdrawn.
The protesters often heavily vandalized shops and public property and attacked citizens believed to be pro-government. However, since the government imposed a ban on public meetings at the end of this March to curb the coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong has been relatively calm.
There was only one instance of unrest when Hong Kong riot police dispersed a crowd of 300 protesters late last month.
More than 7,000 people have been taken into custody for their involvement in the protests since June last year, with many having been charged with rioting, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The Chinese government says the United States and Britain have been fanning the flames of unrest in Hong Kong by supporting the protesters.
Hong Kong has been governed under the “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997.