Hong Kong

On Tuesday, the U.S. Consul General to Hong Kong described Beijing’s interference in its autonomous territory as “unfortunate.” The U.S. diplomat said the mainland’s interference had undermined public confidence.

Hong Kong is an autonomous territory governed by China since 1997. The former British colony is now under a “one country, two systems” policy which grants Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy. However, controversies rose last year after critics saw Beijing undermining its freedom.

Months before 2017, China’s parliament intervened in a Hong Kong court case which resulted in the disqualification of two separatist lawmakers after failing to take an oath of office.

Then New Year started with the disappearance of five booksellers, two of them have a British passport while one has a Swedish passport. Critics believe Chinese authorities abducted the missing persons and secretly moved them to mainland China.

U.S. Consul General Kurt Tong
U.S. Consul General Kurt Tong

Beijing must respect Hong Kong’s autonomy

U.S. Consul General Kurt Tong said, “The unwarranted disappearance of the booksellers, as well as the unfortunate, preemptive interpretation of the Basic Law by the National People’s Congress with respect to official oath-taking, have contributed to a sense among many in Hong Kong that Beijing may be losing sight of the importance of respecting Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

Tong’s strong remarks came after the Hong Kong Bar Association kicked off the legal year with a warning that political expedience “must not be given precedence over the rule of law,” referring to mainland China’s intervention.

The U.S. ambassador also urges Hong Kong residents to continue their everyday routine and spend less time worrying about what Beijing thinks. Tong remains “hopeful” that Beijing would respect Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Days before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, Tong said he is not expecting any shift on U.S.-China relationship despite Trump’s Twitter post criticizing China’s military, foreign policies, and economy.

“Overall, I would tend to expect more consistency than inconsistency in our approaches to the region, and that includes Hong Kong,” Tong added.