‘Strongly indignant’ China says the US should focus on its own domestic issues

Reuters, BEIJING

Sat, Oct 26, 2019 - Page 1

The US would do better to look at its own domestic problems rather than turning its ire on China, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, lambasting US Vice President Mike Pence for a critical speech on China.

Pence on Thursday accused China of curtailing “rights and liberties” in Hong Kong and blasted US company Nike and the National Basketball Association (NBA) for falling in line with Beijing in a disagreement over free speech.

“Some of the NBA’s biggest players and owners, who routinely exercise their freedom to criticize this country, lose their voices when it comes to the freedom and rights of other peoples,” Pence said.

“In siding with the Chinese Communist Party and silencing free speech, the NBA is acting like a wholly owned subsidiary of that authoritarian regime,” he said.

“Nike promotes itself as a so-called ‘social justice champion,’ but when it comes to Hong Kong, it prefers checking its social conscience at the door,” he added.

The vice president hailed a mass movement that has erupted in Hong Kong seeking to preserve the territory’s semi-autonomous status after Beijing attempted to allow extraditions to the mainland.

“We stand with you. We are inspired by you,” Pence said. “We urge you to stay on the path of nonviolent protest, but know that you have the prayers and admiration of millions of Americans.”

The NBA controversy erupted when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted: “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”

In a speech on China that touched on an array of disputes ahead of talks with Beijing to ease a trade war, Pence said that the US does not seek confrontation or to “decouple” from its main economic rival.

However, he pulled no punches when addressing some of the political rifts between the two countries, praising Taiwan as a beacon of democracy and criticizing China for its treatment of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Speaking in Beijing, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) yesterday said that Pence’s speech was full of lies and prejudice, and that it had made China “strongly indignant.”

China is resolute in defending its sovereignty and security, and will never allow anyone to interfere in its internal affairs over Hong Kong, Taiwan or Xinjiang, she added.

“A handful of politicians with Pence at their head have confused black with white on these issues, making irresponsible remarks and creating rumors to slander others,” Hua said.

Pence is “easily arrogant” about other countries, and yet turns a blind eye to the ills of his own country, instead trying to shift the focus of the US public onto other nations, she added.

Certain people in the US need to take a good long look at themselves in the mirror, recognize their own problems and manage their own affairs properly, she said.

Despite the ministry’s harsh tone, influential Chinese state-backed newspaper the Global Times said in an editorial that while Pence reiterated many of his previous criticisms, there was still “room for optimism.”

“He emphasized the US does not want to ‘decouple’ and repeated how US President Donald Trump is willing to start a new future with China,” it said. “He also underlined the friendship between Chinese President Xi [Jinping (習近平)] and his US counterpart, Donald Trump.”

Additional reporting by AFP