Politics & Policy

Blinken Deletes Tweet Saying ‘We Stand with the People of Hong Kong’ in Favor of Milder Message

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a meeting with the Philippines’ Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin at the State Department in Washington, D.C., September 9, 2021. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via Reuters)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reportedly deleted a tweet accusing Chinese leaders of weakening Hong Kong’s long-term political and social stability and affirming the United States’s commitment to “stand with the people of Hong Kong.”

“Beijing should let the voices of all Hong Kongers be heard,” Blinken wrote in the September 16 tweet, according to Newsweek. “The PRC’s disqualification of district councillors only weakens Hong Kong’s long-term political and social stability. We stand with the people of Hong Kong & continue to support their human rights & fundamental freedoms.”

The tweet came after seven pro-democracy district councilors were disqualified this week when authorities said the oaths they took were invalid. 

An identical tweet that was posted by Ned Price, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, had not been deleted as of Friday evening.

The next day, Blinked posted a new, toned-down tweet.

“The PRC’s disqualification of seven pro-democracy district councillors undermines the ability of people in Hong Kong to participate in their governance,” he wrote. “Governments should serve the people they represent. Decreasing representation goes against the spirit of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”

A State Department spokesperson told Newsweek that Blinken’s initial tweet was deleted after the team that manages the secretary’s twitter account “mistakenly sent the tweet intended to come from the spokesperson.”

“We fixed that error and tweeted from both accounts, speaking out about Hong Kong authorities’ disqualification of pro-democracy district councilors,” the spokesperson said.

“Suggestions that this administrative change was somehow motivated by political concerns is patently untrue. The tweets affirm—in words and in meaning—that the United States stands with the people of Hong Kong. We urge the PRC to allow the people of Hong Kong to meaningfully participate in their governance,” the statement added.

A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry’s Hong Kong office issued a statement strongly opposing “irresponsible comments from certain US politicians” on Hong Kong, adding that “no US slanders” would stop the nation’s determination to enforce “patriots administering Hong Kong,” according to the report.

“[The seven district councillors] smeared the Chinese central government and the [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] government, stood on the side of anti-China, destabilising forces in Hong Kong and interfered in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs as a whole,” the statement said.

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