US, China step up war of words over Washington's role in Hong Kong unrest
Iran Press TV
Sat Aug 10, 2019 09:42AM
A new war of words has escalated between Washington and Beijing after the Chinese media shared the news of a meeting between a Hong Kong-based US diplomat and leaders of the city's anti-government protesters.
A report in the Hong Kong newspaper, Ta Kung Pao, said Julie Eadeh of the US consulate's political section in Hong Kong, had recently met with members of the political party Demosist.
The newspaper published a photograph of the diplomat that showed her talking with student leaders in the lobby of a luxury hotel–under the headline "Foreign Forces Intervene."
In the latest exchange, US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said the report was "dangerous."
"Official Chinese media reports on our diplomat in Hong Kong have gone from irresponsible to dangerous. This must stop," Ortagus said in a Twitter post.
She also accused China of "thuggish" behavior for disclosing the photograph.
China has long accused the Western governments, particularly the US, of meddling in Hong Kong's affairs.
The city has been rocked by months of agitation against a proposed bill to allow people to be extradited and stand trial in mainland China.
While the proposed bill has been suspended, protests have continued, opening a new front in an escalating face-off between the United States and China.
China has described the unrest in the city as "the work of the US."
US comments 'blatant slander against China'
The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China in Hong Kong described Ortagus' remarks as "blatant slander against China" that had "again exposed US gangster logic."
Ortagus, however, said that "Chinese authorities know full well, our accredited consular personnel are just doing their jobs, just like diplomats from every other country."
"Foreign diplomats in the United States, including Chinese ones, enjoy open access to all elements of American politics, civil society, academia, and business," she claimed.
On Thursday, Beijing summoned senior officials from the US consulate general in Hong Kong and demanded that US diplomats based in Hong Kong "stop interfering" in the city's affairs.
In a statement, the Chinese foreign ministry urged the US diplomatic office in Hong Kong to "immediately make a clean break with various anti-China rioters" and "stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs immediately."
Ortagus hit back, saying at the time, "That is not how a responsible nation would behave."
Weeks of street clashes between police and protesters–some of them waving flags of the United States and the United Kingdom – are taking a growing toll on the city's economy, as local shoppers and tourists avoid parts of one of the world's most famous shopping destinations.
Hong Kong has been governed under a "one-country, two-system" model since the former British colony was given back to China in 1997.
Many people in the city have expressed frustration over the violence that has disrupted their normal life and routine in the city.
Washington, however, adamantly backs the unrest in the city as tensions between the US administration and Beijing have surged over an expanding trade war and military rivalry in the western Pacific, among many other disputes between the two world powers.
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