Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam accused foreign governments for having “double standards,” criticising the US for condemning Beijing’s move to impose national security laws to quell protests, while taking its own severe steps to curb unrest at home.
“They are very concerned about their own national security, but on our national security...they look through coloured glasses,” said Ms Lam in a weekly press conference.
She also warned that US sanctions against Hong Kong would mean “hurting their own interests.”
Last week, the US declared that it would axe preferential treatment over worries the global financial hub no longer remained sufficiently autonomous from mainland China, ruled by the Communist Party, with the onset of the national security law.
Beijing, no longer willing to tolerate dissenting views in Hong Kong, has defended the national security law as a necessity to restore order. Ms Lam is expected to visit Beijing Wednesday and meet with officials about the law.
Tensions over Hong Kong is the latest flashpoint in a broader US-China row, with Chinese officials and state media in recent days accusing the US of hypocrisy. Beijing has revelled in the mass riots erupting in the US over the death of a black man while in police custody.
Several US cities remain under curfew, and police have used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters. US president Donald Trump has called for the military to be deployed and labelled protesters “thugs” and “domestic terrorists.”
Last year, Hong Kong police used similar tactics to break up demonstrations and Beijing also denounced pro-democracy protesters as “vandals” and terrorists,” behaviour that drew international outcry from foreign governments and human rights groups.
“Why does the US refer to those ‘Hong Kong independence and black-clad rioters’ as ‘heroes’ and fighters,’ but label its people protesting against racial discrimination as ‘thugs,?’” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. “This double standard way of behaving is so typical of the US.”
Hong Kong is bracing for more mass unrest ahead of the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on Thursday. Police have banned the event this year, citing coronavirus concerns, though demonstrators plan to take to the streets to continue the tradition of the candlelight vigil, held every year since the 1989 incident, and to continue protesting against the national security law.