U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has dismissed Beijing’s accusations that the United States is behind the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Already into the third month, the protests show no sign of slowing down as citizens of the city are worried that the HK government might be working hand in hand with China to bring Hong Kong under communist control.
Accusing the US
“I think the protests are solely the responsibility of the people of Hong Kong, and I think they are the ones that are demanding that their government listen to them and hear their voices. It’s — I saw these remarks as well. It’s ludicrous on its face,” Pompeo said in a statement (U.S. Department of State).
The support received by protestors from U.S. politicians like Pompeo and the fact that protestors waved U.S. flags on several occasions ticked off Beijing. Hua Chunying, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, pointed to the flag-waving as “proof” of U.S. involvement in Hong Kong protests and asked that America give an explanation. It is to counter these allegations that Pompeo categorically denied any U.S. role in the demonstrations.
Earlier, Pompeo asked China to “do the right thing” by respecting Hong Kong’s autonomy and stop trying to impose the controversial extradition bill through the local government. The Secretary of State also added that the first thing he does every morning is to read up on China, highlighting how important the relationship between the two nations has become. With regard to Hong Kong, Pompeo has made it clear that he supports the demonstrators’ right to protest.
Blaming the U.S. is just Beijing’s way of subverting negative media attention from itself to the American government. “Hong Kong is part of the bigger playbook to blame the United States for everything… The Chinese government knows the Trump administration is not popular in the United States or in China, so it’s an easy scapegoat,” Ho-Fung Hung, a professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University, said to The New York Times.
US action against China
Four U.S. lawmakers have sent a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to take a strong stand against China’s actions in Hong Kong. The letter argues that China’s actions in the city are a threat to American security and economic interests.
It highlighted the fact that Chinese officials have made veiled threats to U.S. residents of Hong Kong, signaling a possible military intervention from the forces Beijing has stationed in the city. Though Trump can push Hong Kong’s cause, many political experts do not think he would take such a stance and complicate the already tense relationship between Washington and Beijing.
“I don’t think Trump is very interested in this topic… Of course, this is a card he could use against Beijing… And as he begins his re-election campaign he will have to say something about it to appeal to certain audiences… He wants a deal with China as his achievement, and he wants to talk to Xi at the G20. China will not step back on internal affairs and sovereignty. Playing this card would not help in reaching a deal,” Wang Yiwei, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, said to South China Morning Post.
The Australian government has issued a travel alert, warning its citizens to be careful when traveling to Hong Kong as the city risks a “violent confrontation.” The UK, Ireland, and Japan are other nations that have issued such travel advisories since last month.