US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met two politicians closely linked to Hong Kong while visiting London on Tuesday, shortly before he was due to fly back to America and give a major speech on China.
Chris Patten, Britain’s last governor of Hong Kong, and self-exiled student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung met Pompeo separately at Winfield House, the US ambassador’s residence at Regent’s Park.
“Nathan walked in just as Patten was on his way out,” a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told the South China Morning Post. “Pompeo was very keen to do these meetings as they fit in his schedule.”
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The 20-minute pre-dinner meeting between Pompeo and Law was mostly a learning opportunity for the top diplomat of the world’s superpower, the person said. “He was very interested in hearing the perspective of what it’s like to be on the ground in Hong Kong and the nature of the movement.
“Nathan did most of the talking. He gave Pompeo a human element to the movement – what life is like in Hong Kong at the moment, how it feels to be in Hong Kong right now, how to walk a mile in an average Hongkonger’s shoes.”
Patten could not be contacted for comment.
A US official close to Pompeo said the US government was exploring ways to respond to the national security law in Hong Kong “short of waging a war” against China.
Speaking at a press conference earlier on Tuesday, Pompeo called for a global alliance to confront the challenges posed by China.
“We think the entire world needs to work together to ensure every country, including China, behaves in the international system in ways that are appropriate and consistent with the international order,” he said.
“We want every country to work together to push back against the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts in every dimension. We hope we can build a coalition to collectively show the CCP it's not in their best interests to engage in this kind of behaviour.”
Pompeo was speaking alongside British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab who a day earlier had announced Britain would extend its arms embargo against China to Hong Kong and suspend the extradition treaty with the former colony.
Last week, the British government also announced it would ban Huawei’s involvement in its national 5G networks, although it denied it was yielding to Washington’s year-long pressure.
Pompeo took an indirect swipe at China, which said Britain was acting on the instruction of Washington. “We support those sovereign choices,” he said, standing beside Raab. “We think: well done.”
While Pompeo branded his trip with a China focus, Britain trod a more cautious line in an apparent attempt to strike a delicate balance and avoid being seen to be siding with America’s all-out contest with China.
In a tweet summarising the talking points of the day, the British Foreign Office listed “protecting freedoms; Iran, Russia, the Middle East peace process; tackling Covid-19; Nato; trade; the special relationship”.
Raab said he and Pompeo had discussed their “serious concerns” about the situation in Hong Kong and talked about raising the issue of China's actions at “G7 level”.
A No 10 spokesman said Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Pompeo “spoke about shared global security and foreign policy issues, including China’s actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang”, without elaboration.
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This article Pompeo meets Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten and activist Nathan Law in London first appeared on South China Morning Post