Barr blasts arrests of Hong Kong protesters: ‘The latest assault on the rule of law’

The Chinese government is once again cracking down on Hong Kong — this time, by arresting last week a number of the territory’s pro-democracy activists, according to the Washington Examiner. Now, American officials, including Attorney General Bill Barr, are responding with words of condemnation.

“I condemn the latest assault on the rule of law and the liberty of the people of Hong Kong,” Barr said of the arrests in a statement released on Saturday, according to the Examiner.

He went on:

These events show how antithetical the values of the Chinese Communist Party are to those we share in Western liberal democracies. These actions — along with its malign influence activity and industrial espionage here in the United States — demonstrate once again that the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] cannot be trusted.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also signaled his opposition. “The United States condemns the arrest of pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong,” he said in a statement, according to CNBC.

Beijing’s top priority

Among those taken into custody was 81-year-old attorney Martin Lee, who founded the territory’s Democratic Party, the Examiner reported. “Finally I’ve become a defendant. How do I feel? I’m very much relieved,” Lee told the AFP, according to the Examiner. “For so many years, so many months, so many good youngsters were arrested and charged, while I was not arrested. I feel sorry about it.”

Pro-democracy activist Avery Ng was also arrested by CCP officials. Speaking with Reuters, Ng blasted the regime’s decision to target Hong Kong protesters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The world is dealing with this virus, but this signals that Beijing still sees a political crackdown in Hong Kong is a top priority,” the activist said, according to the Examiner.

China has faced increased scrutiny in recent days over its involvement in the beginnings of the pandemic, which has already killed nearly 170,000 worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker. Early reports suggested the virus originated in the so-called “wet markets” of Wuhan, a city in central China, but Fox News reported late last week that U.S. officials are now looking into allegations that the disease escaped from a virology lab in the same location.

The lab’s vice director, Yuan Zhiming, has denied the allegations, according to NBC News. “As we said early on, there is no way this virus came from us,” Yuan reportedly said last week.

“Troublemakers” in Hong Kong?

Meanwhile, Beijing’s communist rulers also appear unmoved by the criticism of its treatment of Hong Kong protesters. The regime responded with defiance in the pages of Xinhua News, a government-run publication.

“The Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Sunday refuted U.S. politicians who openly attempted to exonerate anti-China troublemakers in Hong Kong,” the paper said, according to the Examiner. “It serves as another evidence of their collusion with the local troublemakers, which deserves condemnation by the entire international community.”

It doesn’t seem like the “international community” is buying what the CCP’s selling, however.

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