The central government and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region officials have slammed U.S. politicians' interference in a court case involving Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and their attempt to impose sanctions on Hong Kong judicial officers.
U.S. Representative Chris Smith and Senator Jeff Merkley, chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), recently sent a letter to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. They called for U.S.-UK coordination of action on issues related to the HKSAR to pressure China — a move which attacks the rule of law in the city by hyping Lai's case.
Lai, founder of the now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper, is charged with colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security and three other offenses. The trial was adjourned to Sept 25 and is expected to last 40 days.
A spokesperson for the HKSAR government said it strongly objects to the "purely politically oriented remarks" of the U.S. politicians.
"Making a statement with the intent to interfere with or obstruct the course of justice, or engaging in conduct with the same intent, may even constitute the offense of criminal contempt of court or the offense of perverting the course of justice," said the spokesperson.
Stressing that prosecutorial undertakings by the Department of Justice are free from any interference, the spokesperson said prosecutors act strictly in accordance with long-standing international practice, and cases will never be handled any differently owing to the political beliefs or backgrounds of persons involved.
"Safeguarding national security falls within the internal affairs of a sovereign jurisdiction, and hence the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law in the HKSAR should be free from any form of interference."
The U.S. politicians' arbitrary and unreasonable bullying act has seriously violated international norms and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs.
"It is a blatant attempt to undermine the rule of law in Hong Kong and will only expose their own weakness and is doomed to fail," said the spokesperson.
In another statement issued by the Commissioner's Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the HKSAR, the spokesperson pointed out that during the 2019 social unrest, Lai incited violence and openly said he was "fighting for the United States".
The facts of his suspicion of violating the National Security Law are clear. The handling of Lai's case by the HKSAR complies with laws and will help safeguard the rule of law in Hong Kong. It has nothing to do with freedom of the press and speech, and brooks no foreign interference, the office said.
A few U.S. politicians clamoring for coordination on Hong Kong issues to contain China will prove to be another flop, the statement added.
The office urged relevant institutions and politicians in the U.S. Congress to recognize the facts, abide by international law and basic norms governing international relations, and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs.