China’s foreign minister has reiterated Beijing’s claim that foreign forces are fanning violent protests in Hong Kong, which he denounced as “violence pure and simple”.
“There are foreign forces which are encouraging this sort of violence in the streets with the aim of destabilising Hong Kong, sowing chaos … to wipe out the historic progress made since the ‘one country, two systems’ policy was applied,” Wang Yi said in an interview in Paris with Agence France-Presse.
“What is happening in Hong Kong today is in no way peaceful protests. It’s violence, pure and simple. These are unacceptable acts in any country,” he added, accusing the protesters of attacking police and passers-by and paralysing transport.
Wang made the remarks following a 20th straight Sunday of demonstrations, with the most recent one marked by police firing multiple rounds of tear gas at protesters, some of whom hurled petrol bombs at the officers.
The clashes broke out soon after a mass march that, despite not being approved by police, drew tens of thousands onto the streets to call on the government to meet five key demands including universal suffrage for the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive and all seats in the city’s Legislative Council.
The unrest was triggered in June by mass opposition to a now-shelved extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China’s opaque legal system.
Beijing’s rhetoric may become more inflamed this week with the US Senate expected to vote soon on legislation that lawmakers claim is meant to uphold Hong Kong’s one country, two systems principle, which Beijing and Britain agreed on before the city’s 1997 handover to China. According to that agreement, Hong Kong was to have a high degree of autonomy for 50 years following its transfer of sovereignty to Beijing.
The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which was passed by the House of Representatives last week, would allow the US State Department to sanction individuals it accuses of violating the one country, two systems arrangement.
The legislation’s sponsor in the Senate, Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, told reporters on Friday that “we’re hoping sometime next week or early the following week” for the Senate vote.
Although President Donald Trump has not indicated whether he would sign the law, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made comments on Monday that were supportive of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
“Hong Kong is an issue where China needs to fundamentally live up to its obligation,” Pompeo said in an interview with CNBC. “It made a commitment to one country, two systems. President Trump has said that they need to continue to honour that commitment that they made, not only to Britain, but to the United Nations and the world.”
Wang’s comments followed similar sentiments from Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, who spoke at Monday’s opening ceremony of the Xiangshan Forum, China’s annual conference on security and defence issues. Wei chastised unnamed foreign powers for “instigating colour revolutions” in other countries and using “long-arm tactics” to influence China’s internal affairs.
“Wanton interference in other countries’ affairs will never win,” Wei said. “Interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs, instigating a colour revolution or even attempts to subvert the legitimate governments of other countries are the real causes of wars and unrest in different regions [around the world].”