BEIJING – The “so-called” memorandum on Hong Kong by the US “blatantly defames and attacks” the law of China on “safeguarding national security” and China’s Hong Kong policy, Beijing has said.
“(It) is another embodiment of the US side’s vile behaviors in grossly interfering in China’s Hong Kong affairs,” said Hua Chunying, the spokesperson for China‘s Foreign Ministry.
“The Chinese side deplores and firmly rejects this and has lodged solemn representations with the US side,” Hua said in a statement on Sunday night.
Beijing‘s reprisal comes after Washington last Thursday provided Hong Kong residents with a temporary “safe haven” allowing Hong Kongers who are already present in the US to extend their stay.
“This action demonstrates President Joe Biden‘s strong support for people in Hong Kong in the face of ongoing repression by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and makes clear we will not stand idly by as the PRC breaks its promises to Hong Kong and to the international community,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki had said.
After massive anti-government protests in 2019, China imposed a controversial national security law on July 1, 2020, followed by electoral reforms this spring. The new law drew sharp criticism from Western capitals. But Beijing has side-stepped the criticism terming it interference in China’s internal affairs.
Hua said the enactment and implementation of the law “improved the rule of law in Hong Kong, restored security and stability in Hong Kong, and ensured the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Hong Kong residents.”
“The US claim of offering ‘safe haven’ for Hong Kong residents is completely groundless,” Hua asserted.
“Its real purpose is to endorse anti-China, destabilizing forces in Hong Kong, undermine Hong Kong‘s prosperity and stability and curb China’s development,” she alleged, adding that Beijing has raised the issue with Washington.
She urged the US to “truly respect China‘s sovereignty, abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations, stop meddling in the Hong Kong affairs, stop disrupting Hong Kong‘s rule of law, stop interfering in China‘s internal affairs, refrain from supporting and condoning in any way the anti-China, destabilizing forces, otherwise it will seriously damage its interests in Hong Kong, reaping what it sows.”
The move marked the latest step the Biden administration has taken against, what the US says is Beijing’s actions to erode the rule of law in the territory and deteriorate the high level of autonomy it is supposed to enjoy under a pact that placed it under the Chinese control.
The US has imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and their allies in Hong Kong, particularly after China enacted a national security law meant to crack down on secessionism in Hong Kong, but which pro-democracy groups said is a thinly-veiled effort to quash dissent.
A former restaurant waiter was sentenced to nine years in prison last month under the controversial law, the first sentencing since the law went into effect.