China hit back Friday over the developing fresh diplomatic crisis centered on a US State Department official caught meeting with notable Hong Kong independence activists. The Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong said Washington is applying “gangster logic” after the day prior a US spokesperson called Beijing a “thuggish regime”.
“The spokesperson at the commissioner’s office denounced the claim as a blatant slander against China, which has confounded right with wrong and again exposed US gangster logic and hegemonic thinking. China deplores and firmly opposes the remarks,” the statement said.
Joshua Wong Chi-fung, secretary-general of the #Demosisto party, said there was "nothing sinister" behind his meeting with Julie Eadeh, a political unit chief of the US consulate general in Hong Kong. #Hongkongprotest pic.twitter.com/fLHXA4fTZ3— tim anderson (@timand2037) August 8, 2019
A woman identified as Julie Eadeh, chief of the US consulate in Hong Kong's political unit - which Chinese media figures had denounced as a "subversion expert" - had been photographed early in the week holding a secretive meeting with key anti-Beijing protest leaders at a downtown hotel in the semi-autonomous city.
As the photograph went viral in China, fueling outrage - and for Beijing validating its recent accusations that the US is covertly fueling the protests and unrest that have gripped Hong Kong streets - state media dug up more information on Eadeh.
HK media has the right to report on US diplomats who actively interfere in HK situation, and help people understand what they're doing. The US administration is instigating turmoil in HK the way it stoked "color revolutions" in other places worldwide. This is thuggish diplomacy. pic.twitter.com/4hkH7eYyEH— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) August 9, 2019
The South China Morning Post reports what made the US State Department so outraged as to issue its stern rebuke:
Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao published personal details of Julie Eadeh, chief of the US consulate’s political unit, including her children’s names, and a photograph of Eadeh meeting pro-democracy activists including Joshua Wong Chi-fung. Also attending the meeting were Nathan Law Kwun-chung and other members of local political party Demosisto.
On Thursday afternoon State Dept spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told a news briefing,"I don't think that leaking an American diplomat's private information, pictures, names of their children, I don't think that is a formal protest, that is what a thuggish regime would do." She added, "That is not how a responsible nation would behave."
Referring to China lodging a formal protests over the incident, Ortagus said she objected “to the Chinese saying they issued a formal protest when in fact they harassed an American diplomat”.
“American diplomats meet with formal government officials, we meet with opposition protesters, not just in Hong Kong or China,” she said. “This literally happens in every single country in which an American embassy is present.”
But given the context of Hong Kong witnessing its worst popular unrest since 1997, we can imaging how US officials would react if Chinese or Russian diplomats were photographed meeting with American anti-government protesters at a moment of serious unrest in US cities.