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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken deleted a tweet that said the United States would “stand with the people of Hong Kong”, a post in which he accused Beijing of weakening the city’s long-term political stability.
He posted the message after seven Hong Kong opposition district councillors were disqualified this week, with authorities declaring that the oaths taken by them were invalid.
A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry’s Hong Kong office issued a statement on Friday strongly opposing “irresponsible comments from certain US politicians” on Hong Kong, saying that “no US slanders” would deter the nation’s determination to enforce “patriots administering Hong Kong”.
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“[The seven district councillors] smeared the Chinese central government and the HKSAR government, stood on the side of anti-China, destabilising forces in Hong Kong and interfered in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs as a whole,” the statement said, referring to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The statement said it was common international practice to require an oath of allegiance, set out qualifications for legislators and ensure their national identity and political loyalty through legislation.
“It is sheer hypocrisy and [a] double standard that the US vilifies the just measure of the HKSAR government, even as it itself has an ‘iron net’ system to require public officers to swear allegiance at home, and disqualifies lawmakers for violating parliamentary rules.”
Blinken initially tweeted his criticism with an upfront tone on September 16.
“Beijing should let the voices of all Hong Kongers be heard. The PRC’s disqualification of district councillors only weakens Hong Kong’s long-term political and social stability. We stand with the people of Hong Kong & continue to support their human rights & fundamental freedoms,” he said.
The initial tweet – which says the US stands with Hong Hong people – was deleted from Price’s account on September 16 but it was reposted three hours later.
A day later, Blinken posted a milder tweet that removed the US’ offer to stand with the people of Hong Kong and the blatant advice for Beijing to let the voices of all Hong Kong people heard.
His tweet the next day read: “The PRC’s disqualification of seven pro-democracy district councillors undermines the ability of people in Hong Kong to participate in their governance. Governments should serve the people they represent. Decreasing representation goes against the spirit of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”
In response to the changes, the a spokesperson from the State Department explained Blinken’s initial tweet was an administrative blunder and the US would stand with the people in Hong Kong.
“The team that manages the Secretary’s Twitter account mistakenly sent a tweet intended to come from the Spokesperson. We fixed that error and tweeted from both accounts, speaking out about Hong Kong authorities’ disqualification of pro-democracy district councilors,” a spokesperson said.
“Suggestions that this administrative change was somehow motivated by political concerns is patently untrue. The tweets affirm — in words and in meaning — that the United States stand with people in Hong Kong. We urge the PRC to allow people in Hong Kong to meaningfully participate in their governance.”
The second tweet was criticised by other users who said it was “weak” while some questioned why he would delete the earlier tweet that seemingly offered more moral support and assurance to Hong Kong’s opposition camp.
Blinken has regularly criticised Beijing’s handling of Hong Kong’s opposition camp and was unclear why the outspoken US politician would soften his position.
Last week, the Global Times published an editorial accusing Blinken and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab of “useless wailing for Hong Kong Alliance”.
In July, the US sanctioned seven Chinese officials, all deputy directors from the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong.
Its director, Luo Huining, was sanctioned in August last year.
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