Members of the largest pro-Beijing political party in Hong Kong protested outside the US consulate in Hong Kong on Wednesday, condemning Consul General Kurt Tong as interfering in China’s affairs.
The protest came amid anger from Beijing over a February 27 speech by Tong, in which he warned that threats to the Hong Kong’s autonomy could damage business interests. A spokesperson for the consulate received a letter from the demonstrators before handing them a copy of Tong’s speech.
In Tong’s speech at The American Club of Hong Kong, he cited a number of “unfortunate” events last year, including Hong Kong’s ban on a pro-independence political party, the refusal to grant Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet a visa renewal and the disqualification of electoral candidates on the basis of their political views.
On Wednesday, around 15 members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong marched to the consulate in Central in the rain. They condemned Tong as smearing “One Country, Two Systems” and said the US should stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.
Frankie Ngan, chair of the party’s youth division and a Kwun Tong district councillor, said it was the duty of the Hong Kong government to combat Hong Kong independence: “The SAR government banned the Hong Kong National Party and disqualified certain people from running in elections because they advocated for independence, self-determination, or failed to prove they upheld the Basic Law and pledged allegiance to the SAR,” he said.
【直播】- 強烈譴責美國駐港澳總領事抹黑「一國兩制」美國近日一再就香港事務公開發表錯誤言論，抹黑「一國兩制」在香港的實施。此舉罔顧事實，不負責任，更違背國際法和國際關係基本準則，干預香港事務和中國內政。民建聯將發起請願，予以強烈譴責，促請美方停止發表毫無根據、不負責任的言論，以及停止干預香港事務和中國內政。#民建聯 #強烈譴責
Posted by 民建聯 DAB on Tuesday, 5 March 2019
On the expulsion of foreign journalist Victor Mallet, Ngan said the government has power over immigration to “defend national security and interests.”
“Since the Handover, Hong Kong residents enjoyed unprecedented rights and freedoms, Hong Kong maintained its prosperity and vitality. The successful implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ was recognised by the international community and it should not be smeared,” he said.
No DAB party lawmakers attended the protest. When asked about their absence, Ngan said he sent an email to all DAB members, but they may have chosen not to come because of the rain or time constraints.
On Monday, Tong defended his speech, saying that he hoped to stimulate open conversation on the topic.
“I think [critics] probably haven’t read the speech because I’m not going to apologise for saying that Hong Kong is a great place to do business or Hong Kong is a wonderful city,” he told reporters at the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce.
“I think people need to step back, take a deep breath, and put things in context and realise that open conversation is good for everybody.”
Meanwhile, the US consulate shared a Facebook post on Wednesday evening stating that Hong Kong people “should not beat the wrong person.” Wednesday was also the last day of the lunar calendar where, traditionally, people go to “villain hitting” ceremonies to curse their enemies.
The post was apparently poking fun at DAB member Brave Chan, who mistakenly criticised the British consul general in Hong Kong last week, instead of the US consul general. A few hours later, Chan publicly apologised to the British consul general for his mistake, but maintained his demand for an apology from the US diplomat.
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Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Michael Luk also suggested on Wednesday that people can use an app to “hit” Tong to perform the tradition, instead of going to Canal Road, where the tradition was usually performed.