China warns top US diplomat to not cross ‘red lines’

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Beijing has laid down three “red lines” for the top US diplomat in Hong Kong, saying recent comments by the consul general constituted interference.

Liu Guangyuan, China’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong, met with US Consul General Gregory May to complain about his “inappropriate words and deeds that interfered in Hong Kong affairs,” according to a spokesperson for the commissioner’s office.

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The American diplomat, who took up his posting in September, on Jan. 25 expressed concern over the city’s rule of law following Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in 2020. At the time, the foreign ministry accused May of vilifying the city’s legal system and seeking to disrupt the city.

During the meeting, Commissioner Liu stated “three red lines” that the US consulate should not cross, namely endangering “China’s national security, not to engage in political infiltration in Hong Kong, and not to slander or damage Hong Kong’s development prospect,” according to a statement provided to Bloomberg News.

The US consulate in Hong Kong didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

A spokesperson for the US State Department said that while they don’t comment on private diplomatic meetings, they don’t “hesitate to express publicly and privately the United States’ deep concern over the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy,” according to a statement provided to media outlets including the South China Morning Post.

The US and Hong Kong relationship has remained tense following the enactment of national security law which was used to quell anti-government protests. In response to the law, the US rolled back some of the special privileges granted to the city, making it harder to export sensitive American technology to Hong Kong, and sanctioned senior officials who oversee the territory, including its now-leader John Lee.

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