China on Friday hit back at the United States, accusing Washington of applying “gangster logic” after an official described Beijing as a “thuggish regime”.
Remarks made by US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus were also defamatory, according to the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong.
“The spokesperson at the commissioner’s office denounced the claim as a blatant slander against China, which has confounded right with wrong and again exposed US gangster logic and hegemonic thinking. China deplores and firmly opposes the remarks,” the statement said.
On Thursday, the US accused the Chinese government
of being behind the leak of a Hong Kong-based US diplomat’s personal information, after a pro-Beijing newspaper disclosed details of the official’s private life.
“I don’t think that leaking an American diplomat’s private information, pictures, names of their children – I don’t think that is a formal protest, that is what a thuggish regime would do,” Ortagus said at a news briefing in Washington.
Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao published personal details of Julie Eadeh, chief of the US consulate’s political unit, including her children’s names, and a photograph of Eadeh meeting pro-democracy activists including Joshua Wong Chi-fung. Also attending the meeting were Nathan Law Kwun-chung and other members of local political party Demosisto.
The commissioner’s office lodged a formal complaint with the US consulate in Hong Kong over the meeting, urging Washington to make a “clean break” from anti-China forces that stirred up trouble in the city.
Ortagus objected “to the Chinese saying they issued a formal protest when in fact they harassed an American diplomat”.
She said meetings between diplomats and local political figures were the established protocol of the US foreign service.
“American diplomats meet with formal government officials, we meet with opposition protesters, not just in Hong Kong or China,” she said. “This literally happens in every single country in which an American embassy is present.”
But the commissioner’s office said Ortagus had taken it for granted that US diplomats had the right to collude with local anti-government and even separatist forces.
“Such acts arbitrarily undermine other countries’ sovereignty and security despite their opposition and indignation, and show little regard for international law and basic norms governing international relations, including non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs,” it said.
“We again sternly urge the US side to abide by international law and norms governing international relations, and stop its wrong actions of interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs and undermining their sovereignty and security. Otherwise, it would only shoot itself in the foot and meet with international opprobrium.”
In a separate statement on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Ortagus should reflect on her remarks and avoid attacking Beijing based on media reports.
“This State Department spokeswoman actually said that intervening in other countries’ internal affairs is something that’s common for American diplomats around the world and greatly appreciated. How can the world be peaceful?” Hua said.
As protests in Hong Kong since early June – triggered by a now-shelved extradition bill – have progressed, the Chinese government has increasingly turned to accusations of interference by foreign powers, even at one point calling violent unrest in the city “the work of the US”.
The State Department has rejected all accusations of interference, while US President Donald Trump has sought to distance his administration from the situation, saying last week that it was a matter for Hong Kong and China to resolve “because Hong Kong is a part of China”.
Trump has also called the protests “riots”, a term that resonated more closely with the rhetoric of Beijing than the language of other members of his administration.
The term “thuggish” meanwhile was used to describe an armed mob of men dressed in white who attacked black-clad anti-government protesters and passers-by in the northern town of Yuen Long on July 21. There has been speculation that the attackers were hired thugs, and even that they had the backing of the Chinese government.
It’s always the ones with the dirty consultants that do the clean audits.