Hong Kong, China – Hong Kong roundly rejected the criticism of its human rights practices leveled by the United States, stressing that the international financial hub is “firmly committed to upholding and safeguarding freedoms”. China’s special administrative region was rocked by months of anti-government protests, which began in June last year over a controversial extradition bill, PressTV reported.
The bill was later shelved, but the protests continued and took on an increasingly violent form, with masked individuals vandalizing public and private property and attacking security forces and government buildings. The anti-government protesters later demanded complete separation from mainland China. The protests have effectively died down, in part due to concerns over the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
“The degree and extent of violence committed by radical protesters was unprecedented in Hong Kong, and it has seriously endangered people’s personal safety, public order, and security,” the city’s government said in a statement on Thursday.
It added that safeguarding human rights and freedoms was a constitutional duty, stressing, “The government attaches the utmost importance to and is firmly committed to upholding human rights and various freedoms in Hong Kong”.
The statement came a day after the US State Department in a report criticized the government of Hong Kong for the alleged brutality of its police against protesters and the harassment of journalists covering the protests in Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong’s government said in its statement that “any allegations of political censorship, [and] restriction of the freedom of speech… are totally unfounded”.
It also cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which allows “restrictions” that “might be imposed by law if this is necessary to protect, amongst others, national security, public safety, public order or the rights and freedoms of others”.
Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997. China accused foreign governments, including the US and UK in particular, of provoking the unrest in Hong Kong. The two countries actively voiced support for the protesters.
Earlier, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla also rejected the fake assertions by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against Havana about its human rights situation. Pompeo had described Cuba’s presidency as an alleged “authoritarian regime”. He had also referred to the adoption of a new constitution on February 24, 2020, in “a coercive referendum arranged by the violent repression of the government”.
In a tweet, Parrilla lambasted Pompeo’s remarks for the lack of credibility, stressing he criticized Cuba because it refused to succumb to US. Cuba severed relations with US in 1961. Cuba has been under US economic blockade for over 60 years. In July 2015, ex-President Obama restored relations with Cuba. However, Trump began to roll back the historic rapprochement as soon as he took office in early 2017.