National security adviser Robert O’Brien said on Sunday that the U.S. is “examining further options” after more than 50 activists were arrested in Hong Kong.
O’Brien labeled the about 55 arrests last week, the largest mass arrest since China instituted a new national security law in Hong Kong, as “politicized” and “the latest of many successive nails that Beijing has driven into the coffin of Hong Kong democracy.”
“The United States was the first major country with the courage and conviction to candidly acknowledge the true nature of the CCP regime,” O’Brien said in a statement. “It is critical that nations around the world demand accountability from Beijing.”
“The world cannot continue to pay heavy prices for its naiveté and complicity in Beijing’s irresponsible and harmful practices – whether it is ending the rule of law in Hong Kong or not cooperating with health officials on the pandemic,” he continued. “The United States is examining further options to respond.”
The national security adviser said President TrumpDonald TrumpKim says North Korean efforts will focus on bringing US ‘to their knees’ Pelosi urges Democrats to prepare to return to DC this week amid impeachment calls Ken Klippenstein: ‘Ideological’ blindspot kept law enforcement from urgently responding to Capitol riots MORE’s administration “foresaw and declared the death of Hong Kong’s free and open society” last May.
American, Australian, Canadian and British officials condemned the arrests in a joint statement dated on Saturday.
“It is clear that the National Security Law is being used to eliminate dissent and opposing political views,” the diplomats said. “We call on the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong without fear of arrest and detention.”
The joint statement was signed by Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo, Cruz and other Trump allies condemn Twitter’s ban on president Sanders defends push to impeach Trump: Insurrection won’t be tolerated Pompeo meets with Biden nominee for State as part of transition MORE, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, British Secretary of State Dominic Raab and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne.
Most of those arrested were detained due to their participation in an unofficial primary for a since-delayed legislative election, which officials said disobeyed the law. All but three have been released on bail, according to The Associated Press.
China backed the national security law last year that was designed to criminalize foreign interference, subversion and secession. Western governments and Hong Kong activists have slammed the law, saying it jeopardizes the “one nation, two systems” rule that China agreed to when getting control of Hong Kong in 1997.
Hong Kong officials criticized the joint letter from foreign officials, saying, “We are appalled by remarks made by some overseas government officials that seemed to suggest that people with certain political beliefs should be immune to legal sanctions.”
The national security law was passed more than a year after Hong Kong pro-democracy protests rocked the city over a now-withdrawn bill that would have permitted suspects to be extradited to China.