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According to a White House statement on Friday, Biden met in Washington with Martin Lee, a founder of Hong Kong’s opposition Democratic Party, and Anson Chan, the former number two in the Hong Kong government.
The two activists told the Vice-President that they were concerned about democracy and freedom of the press in Hong Kong coming under pressure and restraints from Beijing.
“The Vice-President underscored our long-standing support for democracy in Hong Kong and for the city’s high degree of autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework,” the statement said.
The Chinese spokesperson, however, accused Biden of interfering in Beijing’s affairs, adding that what happens in Hong Kong is an internal affair.
“Over the past 17 years since Hong Kong’s return, the region has seen the successful implementation of the ‘one country, two systems’ framework, which contributed to Hong Kong’s great socioeconomic and democratic development. As a result, the people in Hong Kong are enjoying unprecedented democratic rights and freedom, which has won international acclaim,” said the spokesperson.
The criticism came just a day after Beijing questioned the intentions of Daniel Russel, US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, after he warned China not to attempt ‘Crimea-style action in Asia’.
Russel reportedly said on Thursday that Russia’s annexation of Crimea had heightened concerns among American allies in the region about the possibility of China using force to pursue its claims; he added that the US was committed to defending its Asian allies.
The US official also warned that sanctions by Western nations on Russia should have a “chilling effect on anyone in China who might contemplate the Crimea annexation as a model”.
China has repeatedly made its stance clear on the situation of Ukraine and the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing.
“As to why the US official is deliberately linking the two issues and making it a story about China, you can go and ask him,” Hong said in response to a journalist’s question in Beijing on Friday.