In a recent diplomatic row, a Chinese diplomat accused the US Consul General in Hong Kong, Gregory May, of Interfering in Hong Kong China’s affairs. The accusation came after May expressed concern over the diminishing freedoms in Hong Kong and warned against crossing political “red lines” in a video address last month.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office in Hong Kong responded to May’s comments by stating that its commissioner, Liu Guangyuan, had met with May to express objections to his “inappropriate” words and deeds. Liu also drew three red lines for the US Consul General and US Consulate General in Hong Kong, stating that they must not endanger China’s national security, engage in political infiltration in Hong Kong, or slander or damage Hong Kong’s development prospects.
Liu urged May to abide by diplomatic ethics and accused him of slandering the rule of law and freedom in Hong Kong when he questioned the legal decision made in Beijing and other changes in Hong Kong’s governance. An unidentified US consulate spokesperson said that while they do not generally comment on private diplomatic meetings, they will not hesitate to express publicly or privately the United States’ deep concern over the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
May’s remarks were made during his address to the US Center for Strategic & International Studies, where he cited a decision by China’s legislature that lets Hong Kong’s executive branch decide whether foreign lawyers can be involved in national security cases in the city. The decision was made after the city’s top court allowed pro-democracy publisher Jimmy Lai to hire a British lawyer to represent him as he fights collusion charges that could bring a life prison sentence if he is convicted.
The US and other democracies have been critical of China’s crackdown on political freedoms in the former British colony, which was handed back to China in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” framework. Hong Kong is among several issues that have strained ties between Beijing and Washington, including technology and trade, human rights, threats against Taiwan, and China’s claims in the South China Sea.
The diplomatic row highlights the ongoing tensions between the US and China, with Hong Kong being a flashpoint in the relationship. The US has criticized China’s increasing control over Hong Kong’s political system, including the national security law that has been used to crack down on pro-democracy activists and press freedoms in the city. China, on the other hand, sees criticism of its handling of Hong Kong as interference in its internal affairs and a threat to national security.
The controversy underscores the importance of maintaining diplomatic relations between countries, especially when tensions are high. Diplomatic communication should be conducted in a respectful and professional manner, and both sides should seek to understand and respect each other’s concerns. The issue of Hong Kong is likely to remain a sticking point in the US-China relationship, and it will be important for both sides to find common ground and work towards a peaceful resolution.