Published: Fri, August 09, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

U.S. calls China 'thuggish regime' for targeting diplomat in Hong Kong

U.S. calls China 'thuggish regime' for targeting diplomat in Hong Kong

U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus speaks during a media briefing at the State Department in Washington, on June 10, 2019.

China also demanded that the United States explain media reports alleging that U.S. officials are in contact with individuals who have been organizing and leading the recent string of demonstrations.

The response followed a warning from Beijing, after a USA diplomat recently met with prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists.

Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao published a photograph of the meeting, identifying the diplomat as a member of the consulate's political section, and running it under the headline "Foreign Forces Intervene". Ortagus called the meeting with protesters a routine part of any American diplomat's job.

"One of my guests said he was afraid that it would be unsafe", the unnamed agency told RFA.

Asked if she was directly calling China a "thuggish regime", she responded, "Yeah".

"I don't really know what to think about the protest down there", said a woman from New Zealand who gave her name as Joyce.

The diplomat was targeted for meeting with pro-democracy student leaders, including Joshua Wong, in the lobby of one of the city's hotels, as the financial hub enters its tenth week of increasingly violent protests against Beijing's rule.

A large majority of Hong Kong's visitors come from mainland China.

Last year, the Hong Kong National Party was outlawed on the grounds it posed a security threat, the first such ban since 1997.

The areas of special treatment for Hong Kong include visas, trade, and investments.

After the news of the meeting was published in local media, the Commissioner's Office-a satellite office of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs located in Hong Kong-urgently summoned a senior official at the U.S. Consulate General on August 8 to protest the meeting.

Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration on August 8. It also cautioned the United States to "stop sending out wrong signals" and "going further down the wrong path".

Sparked two months ago by proposed extradition legislation that could have seen suspects sent to mainland China - where protesters say they could face torture and unfair politicised trials - the protests have since morphed into calls for broader democratic reforms in the former British colony, along with demands for the resignation of the chief executive, Carrie Lam, and investigations into alleged police abuse of force. Marches, rallies and sit-ins have become a near-daily occurrence, with many ending in riot police deploying tear gas and rubber bullets, while a hardcore contingent of young protesters hurl back bricks and lay siege to police stations.

The Chinese regime and the Hong Kong administration have repeatedly asserted their support of how police have handled the protests.

Criticism of Hong Kong's crackdown on protests by USA officials has escalated, although President Donald Trump has tended to dismiss the issue in his comments.

Meanwhile, an email attributed to an unidentified government spokesman said the government and the travel industry were working to minimise disruptions and "all stand ready to welcome and assist visitors to Hong Kong any time".

The groups added that police, in many instances, could have avoided using such aggressive weapons and opted for some less-threatening options.

Hong Kong has recalled from retirement a police commander who oversaw the response to pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014 to help deal with the latest protests, suggesting a lack of confidence in the current leadership.

Why were people so angry about the extradition bill?

Worldwide hotel chain the Langham Hospitality Group said "certain segments" at its Hong Kong hotels had seen a "slowdown".

"I think this is more important, because today it's Hong Kong and tomorrow it will be Taiwan", he said. "Yet for this Hong Kong, we fight".

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