Washington / Beijing:
Washington could sanction those involved in the arrest of over 50 people in Hong Kong and will send the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to Taiwan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday, drawing anger and risk of retaliation from Beijing .
Pompeo said he was also “appalled” by the arrest of an American citizen in the crackdown on Wednesday, adding, “The United States will not tolerate the arbitrary detention or harassment of US citizens.”
Pompeo’s statement came after a day of turmoil in Washington as supporters of President Donald Trump’s Storm Congress sought to overturn his November election defeat. Trump finally admitted on Thursday that Joe Biden, who is due to be sworn in on January 20, will be the next US president.
The leading articles in the Chinese state media on Friday said the attack on the Capitol reflected a failure of leadership and the deep divide in American society and accused US politicians of “double standards.”
“In Hong Kong, violent acts are described as ‘beautiful sights’. In the US, the people involved in this chaos are called ‘mobs’,” said The Global Times, a tabloid of the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s judgment newspaper.
Hong Kong police arrested 53 democracy activists in dawn raids on Wednesday. This was the largest crackdown on dissent since China introduced a security law last year.
Among those arrested was the American lawyer John Clancey, who was allowed to leave a police station with a few others on Thursday.
Pompeo described the arrests as “indignation and a reminder of the Chinese Communist Party’s contempt for its own people and the rule of law”.
“The United States will consider sanctions and other restrictions on all individuals and organizations involved in carrying out this attack on the people of Hong Kong,” Pompeo said.
He said it will also “investigate restrictions on the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Bureau in the United States and take additional emergency measures against officials who have undermined Hong Kong’s democratic processes.”
Pompeo also announced that Kelly Craft, Washington’s ambassador to the United States, will visit China-claimed and democratically-ruled Taiwan, a symbolic trip since the island is not a member of the United States due to objections from Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a headstrong province States is.
“Taiwan shows what a free China can achieve,” he said.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Pompeo’s comments represented serious interference in the country’s internal affairs.
“China will take all necessary steps to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and security interests,” Hua told reporters. “The United States has to pay a heavy price for its mistakes.”
In a later statement, China’s mission to the United Nations urged Washington to “stop its insane provocation” and warned that “those who play with fire will burn themselves”.
Taiwan welcomed Craft’s visit, which will be the first of a seated US ambassador to the United States, and said it shows strong US support for Taiwan’s international involvement.
DAY OF THE TURMOIL
US lawmakers described the attack on Congress as an embarrassment for US democracy that would play into the hands of rivals, and Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, a leader in developing Trump’s China policy, was among them a list of officials who stopped in protest.
“They’re very popular in Beijing,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a China hawk, told Tucker Carlson on the Fox News channel. “It kind of reinforces their claim that we are falling apart and that they are the land of the future.”
Trump had tough policies on China on matters ranging from trade to espionage, and the coronavirus and relations fell to their worst levels in decades as he stepped up rhetoric in his unsuccessful re-election campaign.
His government has already imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for cracking down on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and other alleged violations of law.
After a series of measures against Chinese companies, US officials should meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss a proposed expansion of an executive order banning investment in companies with alleged links to the Chinese military, two people familiar with the matter said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)