BEIJING: China said on Thursday (May 21) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is "blackmailing" the Hong Kong government with the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and that Washington's recent actions amount to blatant interference on China's internal affairs.
Pompeo said on Wednesday the recent treatment of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong makes it harder to assess whether the territory remains highly autonomous from China, a requirement for special treatments the city gets under US law.
Pompeo told a news conference a congressionally mandated State Department assessment as to whether the former British colony has such a degree of autonomy was still pending.
"We are closely watching what's going on there," he said. "Leading Hong Kong activists like Martin Lee and Jimmy Lai were hauled into court. Actions like these make it more difficult to assess that Hong Kong remains highly autonomous from mainland China," he said.
A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry's office of the commissioner to Hong Kong said in a statement Pompeo's actions cannot scare the Chinese people and that Beijing will safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests.