By Agence France-Presse
Beijing accused Donald Trump of making “untrue remarks” over Hong Kong and Chinese trade commitments on Wednesday, hitting back after the US president ramped up pressure on China at the United Nations.
Beijing is facing international criticism on a number of fronts, as months of pro-democracy unrest in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong come alongside economic tensions with the US and international scrutiny of its policy towards Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang slammed “the untrue remarks mentioned by the US side in his speech” after Trump criticised the fellow Security Council member in a strident speech Tuesday saying it must “protect Hong Kong’s freedom and legal system and democratic ways of life”.
The US president also declared that the time of Beijing’s “abuses” of the system was “over”.
But Geng said the “US should meet China at halfway” and called for the two countries to “handle and control their differences on the basis of mutual respect.”
Geng also criticized a US State Department event to highlight the plight of ethnic Uighurs in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, where human rights organizations say a million or more mainly Muslim minorities are being interned.
“I want to emphasize here that the issue of Xinjiang is not a religious or a human rights issue, but an anti-secession and anti-terrorism issue,” he said.
“Xinjiang continues to maintain prosperity and stability, national unity and social harmony… All malicious slander and smearing from the US and other countries are in vain.”
The conference was held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to garner support “to demand and compel an immediate end to China’s horrific campaign of repression,” John Sullivan, the US’s second-highest diplomat, said.
The demonstrations in Hong Kong have triggered the Asian financial hub’s biggest political crisis since its handover from Britain to China in 1997.
Until Tuesday, Trump had largely left it to the State Department to demand respect for the handover agreement with the UK, which handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997.