U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has issued a warning to China against interfering with U.S journalists based in Hong Kong. Pompeo says any negative interference by China to the journalists will greatly impact assessment of Hong Kong status by the U.S.
“These journalists are members of a free press, not propaganda cadres, and their valuable reporting informs Chinese citizens and the world,” said Pompeo.
In the first week of the month, Pompeo said the State Department was is in possession of a report which would be passed over to the Senate to access whether Hong Kong was enjoying enough autonomy from China to continue receiving special treatment from the U.S.
Britain handed over Hong Kong to China in 1997 under the condition, China would grant Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. This formed the basis of the territory’s special status under U.S. law.
Pompeo said the report was intentionally delayed to allow accounts of any interference in Hong Kong by China to be captured in the report before it’s delivered to the U.S Senate.
Tensions between China and U.S have been building up recently due to outbreak of coronavirus. At first, U.S President Trump praised China on how it was handling the breakout at the beginning of the year.
Thereafter, Trump started pointing fingers at China blaming the country for the disease, for a while China retaliated by pinning the virus to the U.S military but withdrew from that line of accusation. A week ago Pompeo announced that he’s got new evidence suggesting the virus was indeed developed in a Wuhan lab. China dismissed Pompeo’s accusations daring him to produce the evidence.
Back in February, Trump’s administration said it will start treating 5 major media houses ran by the Chinese government with U.S operations as foreign entities. This means the media houses will have to register their employees and assets they have in the U.S with the State Department.
In response, China said it would revoke accreditation of American correspondents with the New York Times (NYT), Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post whose credential are to expire at the end of the year.