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US calls China a ‘thuggish regime’ for ‘harassing’ Hong Kong-based American diplomat

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Hong Kong CNN —  

The US State Department hit out at China Thursday, accusing Beijing of behaving like a “thuggish regime” after the personal information of an American diplomat in Hong Kong, including the names of her children, was published by a pro-government newspaper.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said earlier that it had summoned “an officer at the US Consulate General in Hong Kong” after they held a meeting with local opposition figures it described as “Hong Kong independence” activists.

The move comes as Hong Kong enters its tenth weekend of increasingly violent, disruptive protests, which some in China have sought to blame on foreign forces.

In a statement, China’s foreign ministry said it had lodged “stern representations” with the consulate over the meeting, “expressing strong disapproval and firm opposition.”

Washington should “immediately make a clean break from anti-China forces who stir up trouble in Hong Kong, stop sending out wrong signals to violent offenders, refrain from meddling with Hong Kong affairs, and avoid going further down the wrong path,” the statement said.

The diplomat was identified as Julie Eadeh by pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao, which has strong ties to the Chinese government. The paper published photos of Eadeh meeting with Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and other members of his political party Demosisto, at a luxury hotel in the city. As well as identifying Eadeh, Ta Kung Pao also published the names of her husband and their young children.

The move was greeted by outrage in Washington, where State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus accused China of behaving irresponsibly and “thuggishly.”

“I don’t think that leaking an American diplomat’s private information, pictures, names of their children – I don’t think that that’s a formal protest,” she said at a regular briefing Thursday. “That is what a thuggish regime would do. That’s not how a responsible nation would behave. Releasing any of that personal information of an American diplomat is completely unacceptable. That’s not a protest. That’s what a thuggish regime does, and it’s unacceptable.”

Ortagus said it was normal for US diplomats to meet with protesters and opposition figures, regardless of where they work.

“This literally happens in every single country in which an American embassy is present. So our diplomat was doing her job and we commend her for her work,” she said. “This is what not only American diplomats do, this is what other countries’ diplomats do.”