The Chinese Foreign Ministry this week accused the U.S. of influencing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong; which secretary of state Mike Pompeo called “ludicrous.”
En-route to an ASEAN meeting in Thailand, Pompeo said of the Hong Kong protests that it’s always appropriate for a government to listen to its people.
The U.S.’s former Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau Kurt Tong also denied China’s “foreign forces” accusation. “No, no, no. The protests in Hong Kong are Hong Kong people protesting, and I think that’s really clear.”
He said the recent demonstrations reflect the deeper concerns of the Hong Kong people about losing their autonomy to Beijing through excessive interference despite their “one country, two systems” model.
“That fundamental concern that people have about the contradictions between the two political systems in Hong Kong and in the mainland, I think it’s something that needs to be reflected upon and then acted upon in appropriate ways,” Tong said. Beijing should take a step back when it comes to Hong Kong, he said; and that autonomy is key to Hong Kong’s long-term competitiveness.
A global policy research expert said the U.S. has important interests in Hong Kong; “more than a thousand American firms, many thousand American residents. Our long term efforts to sustain that separate quality of Hong Kong life that had been maintained before 1997 so long as the next fifty years,” Douglas H. Paal, Distinguished Fellow, Carnegie Endowment of International Peace said.
Paal said these efforts afford the U.S. the right to speak about what’s happening in Hong Kong.