US condemns arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong

Police officers stand guard as pro-democracy supporters gather outside the West Kowloon court on March 1, 2021 in Hong Kong.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken is condemning the arrests of dozens of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and calling for their immediate release.

“We condemn the detention of and charges filed against pan-democratic candidates in Hong Kong’s elections and call for their immediate release. Political participation and freedom of expression should not be crimes. The U.S. stands with the people of Hong Kong,” Blinken said on Twitter Sunday evening.

Chinese authorities earlier Sunday charged 47 pro-democracy activists with conspiracy to commit subversion for their alleged involvement in an unofficial primary election last summer. 

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation later in the day, Blinken was asked what the U.S. could do to punish China for its reported human rights violations.

“Well, I think there are a few things,” he responded. 

“First of all, it is really important to speak up, to speak out, and to do so with other countries who share our abhorrence at what is — what’s happening to Uyghurs in Xinjiang or, for that matter, what’s happening to democracy in Hong Kong,” Blinken said.

“But in terms of practical measures, I think there are a number of things that can be done. For example, countries should not be supplying any products or technology that can be used for the repression of people in China; for example, the Uyghurs,” Blinken continued. “Similarly, countries should look at making sure they’re not importing products that are made with forced labor. Those are very practical things that countries can do and focus on to make sure that not only is our voice loud but our actions are too.”

He also reaffirmed that he believed China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority is a genocide, a designation that Blinken’s predecessor, Mike Pompeo, made shortly before leaving office. Pompeo’s decision to call China’s treatment of Uyghurs a genocide is currently under review by the Biden administration. 

Protests broke out in Hong Kong in 2019 after Beijing began to push for stricter national security laws. One law would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China, though the bill was ultimately withdrawn after protests broke out.

Tags Antony Blinken Antony Blinken China Department of State Hong Kong Hong Kong protests Mike Pompeo

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