Then, hours after the meeting, the standing committee of China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress, moved forward with drafting a controversial national security law for Hong Kong—despite condemnation from the United States and other countries, including the G-7 nations, as they raised concerns that such a proposal would undermine the territory’s autonomy and freedoms.
Pompeo and Yang met for more than six hours in Honolulu on June 17, according to Reuters.
Yang is a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Politburo, a 25-member body of the Party’s elite, and director of the Office of Foreign Affairs. He’s considered the top official on Taiwan affairs within the regime, and the second-highest official on Hong Kong and Macau affairs. The two territories were former European colonies that reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 and 1999, respectively.
Following the meeting, on June 18, the U.S. State Department issued a brief statement attributed to spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus: “The Secretary stressed important American interests and the need for fully-reciprocal dealings between the two nations across commercial, security, and diplomatic interactions. He also stressed the need for full transparency and information sharing to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and prevent future outbreaks.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese regime, via a statement first published on state-run Xinhua, stated that Pompeo and Yang shared opinions on China–U.S. relations.
“Both sides considered this meeting a constructive dialogue,” the statement reads. “Both sides agreed to execute the consensus reached by the heads of the two nations. Both sides agreed to maintain contact and communication.”
Xinhua later published a briefing from Zhao Lijian, spokesman of China’s foreign ministry.
Zhao only mentioned what Yang told Pompeo on the issues of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang, but didn’t mention what the U.S. side spoke about.
The statement emphasized the CCP’s hardline positions on Taiwan and Hong Kong—namely, that China retains sovereignty over the regions. Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory, despite it being a democratic, self-ruled island.
According to Zhao, Yang told Pompeo that “China’s determination to advance a national security law in Hong Kong is unwavering. … China resolutely opposes the United States’ words and actions that serve as interference in Hong Kong affairs.”
The United States has previously issued statements condemning Beijing’s encroachment into Hong Kong affairs. In response to Beijing’s security law proposal, President Donald Trump said it would revoke Hong Kong’s special trading status and enact sanctions on officials who erode the territory’s autonomy.
Zhao also said that the Chinese side opposed the G-7’s recent statement on Hong Kong.
Issued on June 17, the foreign ministers of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the High Representative of the EU released a statement calling on China to reconsider its security law proposal, saying that it “isn’t in conformity with the Hong Kong Basic Law [the territory’s mini-constitution] and its [Beijing’s] international commitments under the principles of the legally binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration,” the latter referring to a treaty that outlines Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty and Beijing’s promise to respect the territory’s autonomy upon the handover.
The seven countries added that the law could “jeopardize the system which has allowed Hong Kong to flourish and made it a success over many years.”
Hong Kong Issue
Hours after the Pompeo–Yang meeting, Beijing suddenly announced that its rubber-stamp legislature deliberated the drafting of the national security law for Hong Kong.
According to the announcement, the law will punish four types of actions in Hong Kong: “secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security.”
The Chinese regime, as well as pro-Beijing officials in Hong Kong, have previously framed local pro-democracy activists and protesters as individuals who “colluded with foreign or external forces.”
Many Hongkongers are concerned that the new law would enable Beijing to crack down on dissent.
Oddly, when Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah was asked by reporters about Beijing’s move on June 18, she said she had no idea about the exact drafting of the law. She then refused to comment about the offense of “colluding with foreign or external forces.”