Beijing Sees ‘Black Hand’ of Pence, Pompeo, and Pelosi Behind Hong Kong Protests

Patrick Goodenough | August 7, 2019 | 5:23am EDT
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Protesters in Hong Kong throw back tear gas fired by the police on Monday. (Photo by Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

( – Amid a deepening political and security crisis in Hong Kong, mainland Chinese government officials are ramping up their accusations of a Western “black hand” behind the street protests, pointing to actions and statements by leaders including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Monday saw the biggest number of arrests (148) and the largest number of teargas rounds fired (some 800) in one day since the mass demonstrations began two months ago. Some protestors have clashed violently with police, and several incidents have been reported of China’s national flag being taken down and thrown into the sea.

“We warn the unscrupulous violent criminals and the black hands behind them: those who play with fire will perish by it,” Yang Guang, spokesman for the communist government’s main agency overseeing Hong Kong affairs, said during a press briefing in Beijing Tuesday. “At the end of the day, they will eventually be punished.”

Asked for evidence of Beijing’s persistent claim that outside forces are enflaming the protests, Yang launched into a list of grievances, citing names and dates. Among them:

--A March 21 State Department report finding that Hong Kong’s degree of autonomy has been “diminished.”

(The report was issued pursuant to the 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act – legislation governing how the U.S. would treat Hong Kong after the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1994. The president may suspend privileges enjoyed by the territory if it’s determined that Hong Kong is not “sufficiently autonomous” from the mainland.)

--The introduction on June 13 of legislation in the House and Senate of bills defending Hong Kong’s autonomy. With bipartisan support, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was introduced in the House by Lantos Human Rights Commission co-chairs Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and James McGovern (D-Mass.), and in the Senate by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

--A remark by Pelosi, at a June 4 Congressional Executive Commission on China hearing, to the effect that the mass protests in Hong Kong were “a beautiful sight to behold.”

-- A June 25 call by Britain’s then-foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, for an inquiry into the use of force against protestors by Hong Kong police.

--A July 8 meeting at the White House between Pence and Hong Kong media tycoon and democracy campaigner Jimmy Lai. Pompeo met separately with Lai on the same day, discussing the status of Hong Kong’s autonomy and the controversial extradition legislation that sparked the protests two months ago. (The bill, which sought to allow suspects of serious crimes to be sent from Hong Kong to mainland China for trial, has been suspended, but protestors want it withdrawn completely.)

Yang Guang, spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, addresses a briefing on the Hong Kong crisis. (Photo: Zhang Xin/China State Council)

Yang characterized those as examples of “irresponsible” and “ignorant” remarks and actions that amount to interference in China’s internal affairs and are contributing to the “chaos” in Hong Kong.

He cited senior Communist Party officials as accusing these outside forces of trying to use the unrest in Hong Kong as a tool to “contain” China.

‘Ruthless, selfish and bossy’

Meanwhile Pelosi has drawn fresh criticism from Beijing after issuing a new statement on Tuesday.

“The extraordinary outpouring of courage from the people of Hong Kong stands in stark contrast to a cowardly government that refuses to respect the rule of law or live up to the ‘one country, two systems’ framework which was guaranteed more than two decades ago,” she said.

Pelosi said when lawmakers return to Washington, Congress would “begin our work to advance the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and fight to preserve democratic freedoms and the rule of law in Hong Kong.”

In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Wednesday accused Pelosi and other U.S. politicians of “bolstering violent radical criminals and even justifying and whitewashing their behaviors.”

“They’ve also wantonly smeared and vilified the just move of the [Hong Kong] government and police to uphold the rule of law and order,” Hua said. “This is no different from covering up, conniving at and supporting illegal criminal behaviors, which again reveals their malicious intention of anti-China and messing up Hong Kong.”

At an earlier briefing this week Hua directed her criticism at Smith and McGovern, slamming them for referring to the protests as “peaceful demonstrations.”

Citing some of the clashes with police, obstruction of traffic, and the flag desecration, she said, “Such things simply cannot be tolerated. The U.S. doesn’t mention them at all.”

Broadening her attack, Hua said the U.S. turns a blind eye to “violent law enforcement” at home while trying to “smear the professional, civilized and constrained law enforcement of Hong Kong police.”

“This will only help the world to see how arrogant, biased, hypocritical, ruthless, selfish and bossy the U.S. is.”


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