The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Thursday hit back at the U.S. for the hypocrisy and hegemony evident in its so-called Hong Kong Autonomy Act, calling the report released by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo groundless and accusing him of making irresponsible accusations.
It is unacceptable that the report has tried to smear and demonize the National Security Law for Hong Kong, as national security, according to international practice, has always fallen under the purview of the central authorities, the spokesman stressed.
Contrary to the report's claims that Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and freedoms have been undermined, the enactment of the law on June 30 was designed to safeguard national security as well as protect the basic rights and freedoms enjoyed by the public, he added.
In a hard-hitting statement, the government spokesman urged the U.S. to stop its blatant interference on all fronts. Otherwise, he said, the SAR will defend its interests against the U.S.' unilateral actions through various means.
On Oct 13 in Geneva, the HKSAR's permanent representative to the World Trade Organization demanded that the U.S. withdraw its unilateral requirement of the origin marking of Hong Kong products at a meeting of the WTO General Council. The SAR government will also take the issue up with the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.
In the meantime, the government will fully support and facilitate any countermeasures taken by the central government against the U.S., he revealed.
"The U.S. has been increasingly blatant in its interference in Hong Kong's affairs in recent months, including passing successive laws, pronouncing an executive order and imposing ‘sanctions' against our officials under the pretext of human rights, democracy and autonomy," the spokesman said.
The so-called sanctions are another example of U.S. hegemony, he said.
Noting the undue pressure of sanctions from the U.S. on financial institutions, the spokesman said Hong Kong's financial institutions and financial system will continue to operate normally and smoothly as the system is robust and resilient.
The spokesman added that the Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and other high-ranking officials targeted by the U.S. have made it clear that they will not be intimidated. They will continue to discharge their duty to safeguard national security in Hong Kong in accordance with the law and without fear or anxiety.
The spokesman also blasted Pompeo's irresponsible claim that the 12 Hong Kong fugitives arrested while trying to flee the city on a speedboat reportedly bound for Taiwan had committed no crimes.
The 12 were either suspected of violating the National Security Law in relation to collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security, or charged by the police with serious offences including making or possession of explosives, arson, conspiracy to wound, riot, assault of a police officer, possession of offensive weapons and possession of an instrument fit for an unlawful purpose.
The court released them on bail, pending trial, with the condition that they remain in Hong Kong.
The 12 were arrested by Chinese mainland authorities, for illegal entry to the mainland.
"In Hong Kong, no one is above the law and everyone has to be responsible for his or her actions. The HKSAR government will not interfere with the law enforcement actions of other jurisdictions. By the same token, we once again urge the U.S. to stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which are internal matters of the People's Republic of China," the spokesman said.