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Newsline: Top US envoy in Hong Kong rebukes China’s crackdown in farewell speech

Washington’s top diplomat in Hong Kong said China should not be “terrified of dissenting opinions” as he used a farewell speech on Monday to rebuke Beijing’s crackdown on freedoms in the business hub. Hanscom Smith’s three-year term as consul general was caught in mounting challenges as Beijing and Washington took opposing sides on the city’s huge, sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019. China imposed a sweeping national security law on the city following the protests and Washington implemented sanctions against top Hong Kong officials. US officials confirmed privately that since then city officials refused to meet with Smith. The consul general complained that routine diplomatic activities were characterised as “interference” and diplomats have been threatened under the security law. “Strong nations are not terrified of dissenting opinions. An exchange of views is not collusion. Attending an event is not interference. A handshake is not ‘a black hand’,” Smith said in his farewell speech at the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/top-us-envoy-in-hong-kong-rebukes-china-s-crackdown-in-farewell-speech/ar-AAZs10o) He reaffirmed that Washington did not support Hong Kong independence and “we simply ask Beijing to … give the city the autonomy Beijing promised”. Since its handover to China in 1997, Hong Kong has been governed under a “one country, two systems” principle agreed by Britain and China and codified in the city’s mini-constitution.

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