A diplomat with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with a US consul over remarks lamenting Hong Kong’s future under the Chinese Communist Party.
U.S. Consul General Gregory May said last month that he was concerned about Hong Kong’s status as a business hub without the guaranteed freedoms enjoyed prior to the island’s return to China.
“The National Security Law and actions taken by Beijing and Hong Kong authorities may negatively impact company staff, finances, legal compliance reputation and operations,” May said in January.
May went on to warn that “companies should be aware that the risks faced in mainland China are now increasingly present here in Hong Kong.”
May’s comments incensed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials, who have for years attempted to suppress criticism of their regime’s governance of the island.
High-ranking CCP diplomat Liu Guangyuan reportedly met with May after the comments, complaining about the consul’s evaluation of Hong Kong.
“Liu also drew three red lines for US consul general and US consulate general in Hong Kong, which is not to endanger China’s national security, not to engage in political infiltration in Hong Kong, and not to slander or damage Hong Kong’s development prospect,” the diplomat’s office told the Associated Press.
The Chinese government moved to stifle opposition following protests in Hong Kong in 2019 against a proposed law allowing extraditions to mainland China. Under the national security law, which took effect in June 2020, police cracked down on opposition politicians, activists and demonstrators.
Since China imposed its national security law, at least 150 opposition politicians, activists and protesters have been taken into custody on politically motivated charges, including secession, subversion, terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements, according to the White House.
Earlier this year, President Biden extended the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) program, which protects Hong Kong residents in the U.S. from deportation, due to “increased repression” from the Chinese government, less than two weeks before it was set to expire.
Biden first extended the DED program to Hong Kong residents on Aug. 5, 2021, which deferred the deportation of Hong Kong residents for 18 months.