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China told SF TD of 'violent crimes by Hong Kong rioters'

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 15/08/2020 Hugh O'Connell

A Sinn Féin TD told the Chinese Ambassador to Ireland he hoped Hong Kong would get "back to the right track" after being informed that protesters were unleashing a "wave of violence" in the territory.

Sinn Féin's position on the former British colony has come under scrutiny this week after reported comments by deputy leader Michelle O'Neill on controversial security laws and its abstention on a European Parliament vote condemning the laws amid concerns about Chinese sovereignty.

According to the Chinese embassy's account of a meeting last August, Mr Crowe was briefed by Ambassador He Xiangdong on the growing protests in Hong Kong. The then-Sinn Féin foreign affairs spokesman was told the peaceful protests had turned into "violent crimes" with protesters disrupting traffic, assaulting civilians and attacking police.

"By unleashing the wave of violence, those protesters have not only undermined Hong Kong's rule of law, social order and economy, and harmed people's livelihoods, but also challenged the constitutional principle of 'one country, two systems'," the account states.

The ambassador told Mr Crowe: "Some people distort the facts and intervene in Hong Kong affairs by measures resembling the period of colony and hegemony."

Human Rights Watch has said protests last year were largely peaceful and that authorities failed to investig-ate excessive force by police.

The embassy's account states that Mr Crowe thanked Ambassador He "for his clarification and wishes Hong Kong back to the right track as soon as possible".

A spokesman for Sinn Féin said yesterday Mr Crowe expressed his "hope for a peaceful political resolution to the protests", and added: "We do not comment further on the content of meetings with the diplomatic corps."

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus said his party "condemns unequivocally the human rights abuses carried out in Hong Kong" but that he abstained on the European Parliament resolution condemning China in June because it implicitly supported sanctions "which would have impacted the ordinary Chinese people" and that "many in the EU approached this issue with a colonial mindset".

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