WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday lashed out at what he called China’s “Orwellian” moves to censor activists, schools and libraries in Hong Kong under a new sweeping security law.
Authorities in the financial hub have ordered schools to remove books for review under the new law, which has criminalised certain opinions such as calls for independence or autonomy.
Libraries in Hong Kong said they were pulling titles written by a handful of pro-democracy activists.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s destruction of free Hong Kong continues,” Pompeo said in a sharply worded statement.
“With the ink barely dry on the repressive National Security Law, local authorities – in an Orwellian move – have now established a central government national security office, started removing books critical of the CCP from library shelves, banned political slogans, and are now requiring schools to enforce censorship,” he said.
He condemned what he called the “latest assaults on the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong”.
“Until now, Hong Kong flourished because it allowed free thinking and free speech, under an independent rule of law. No more,” Pompeo said.
Beijing has faced a groundswell of criticism from primarily Western nations over its decision to impose the security law, which outlaws acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces in Hong Kong.
US Vice-President Mike Pence told CNBC last week that the security law was a “betrayal” and “unacceptable to freedom-loving people around the world”.
Last week, the US Congress passed tough new sanctions targeting banks over violations of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The act would punish banks – including blocking loans from US institutions – if they conduct “significant transactions” with violators of Hong Kong’s autonomy.
President Donald Trump must sign the legislation for it to take effect.