US and China clash over Hong Kong laws at closed UN meeting

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States and United Kingdom clashed yesterday with China and Russia over Beijing’s new national security law for Hong Kong during closed Security Council discussions that reflected increasing US-China tensions.

Diplomats said China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun accused the US and UK of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and making baseless accusations that the law risks curtailing freedoms guaranteed in the December 1984 Sino-British agreement that led to the 1997 handover of the British colony to China. He called the US the “troublemaker” of the world and told council members not to make China “the enemy”, they said.

Zhang also asked what the US would do if China wanted the council to discuss the situation in Minneapolis where an unarmed black man, George Floyd, died after a white policeman knelt on his neck, the diplomat said.

US Ambassador Kelly Craft responded that every country has its difficulties and grievances but the difference is that the United Stated is a democracy with the rule of law where people can protest and have democratic rights, which isn’t the case in China, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions were closed.

China’s UN Mission tweeted: “What deserves the world’s attention: US failure to honour its int’l obligations & commitment, US failure to address its racial discrimination, US failure to protect its migrants & their children, US failure to protect its people against gun violence.”

Ambassador Craft said in tweets that she urged council members “to confront China’s empty promise to the people of Hong Kong and the UK”.

“Beijing’s recent actions threaten Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and implicate international peace & security,” and “contradict” its obligations under the Sino-British agreement which is registered at the United Nations, she said.

The United States calls on the Security Council and all 193 UN member states to join in demanding that China “reverse course and honour its obligation to this institution & Hong Kong’s people”, Craft tweeted.

China blocked the United States and United Kingdom from holding an open meeting on Hong Kong, so they raised the national security laws in the “any other business”session at the end of yesterday’s council meeting, a procedure which allows the 15 council members to raise other issues in closed discussions.

China’s UN Mission tweeted that the US and UK effort to formally discuss the Hong Kong issue “failed” because there was “no agreement” and “strong opposition” from members of the Security Council.

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