July 31, 2023
BEIJING – China has lodged a strong protest to the United States over the latter’s barring of Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu from attending this year’s APEC leaders’ summit.
Reports cited unidentified US officials as saying Lee would be barred from the meeting to be held in San Francisco in November due to sanctions that the US had imposed on him in 2020.
US sanctions on Chinese personnel, including Lee, are illegal and unreasonable, an act of bullying and a serious violation of basic norms guiding international relations, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Friday.
“It is yet another mistake not to invite Hong Kong’s chief executive to the APEC meeting by citing those sanctions as a reason,” Mao said.
Noting that APEC hosts have a responsibility to ensure the participation in the organization’s meetings of representatives of all the member economies, Mao said the US’ refusal to invite Lee to November’s meeting is a “blatant violation of APEC rules, and contravenes the US’ commitment as host”.
Mao urged the US to lift its sanctions on Lee and other Hong Kong officials, fulfill its duty as the APEC host by inviting Lee to the meeting, and ensure representatives of all APEC member economies, including Hong Kong, will participate in the meeting.
It is yet another mistake not to invite Hong Kong’s chief executive to the APEC meeting by citing those sanctions as a reason.
Mao Ning, Spokeswoman, Foreign Ministry
Calling on the US to “stop undermining the solidarity and cooperation of the APEC”, Mao said China will firmly protect the legitimate and lawful rights of Hong Kong to attend APEC meetings.
In another development, Mao urged Japan on Friday to stop hyping up the “China threat” and refrain from making excuses in its attempt to build up its military force.
In its 2023 defense white paper issued on Friday, Japan expressed “serious concerns” over China’s national defense development and military activities, and claimed that the “military balance” across the Taiwan Strait is “tilting rapidly” toward the Chinese mainland.
The report brutally interferes with China’s internal affairs, Mao said.
Voicing China’s “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition”, Mao said the report smears China’s national defense development and regular military activities in the seas and skies, and that it plays up the “China threat” narrative to create tension in the region.
China follows the path of peaceful development and a defense policy that is defensive in nature, Mao said.
The country’s defense development and military activities are legitimate and justified, and its military cooperation with other countries, including joint patrols, is in accordance with international law and customary international practice, she said.
Regarding the Taiwan question, the spokeswoman said it is purely China’s internal affairs, which allows no foreign interference.
“The so-called military balance across the Taiwan Strait is a groundless subject to begin with,” Mao said.
“Japan, which bears grave responsibilities on the Taiwan question for its historical crimes committed against the Chinese people, should act all the more prudently and draw lessons from history,” she said.
Given Japan’s history of militarist aggression in the last century, Japan’s military and security moves are being closely watched by its Asian neighbors and the international community, the spokeswoman said.
The world is strongly concerned about whether Japan, which has been increasing its defense expenditure in recent years, will continue to stick to peaceful development, she said.
Mao urged Japan to respect its neighboring countries’ security concerns.