July 28, 2019 / 9:20 AM / 7 months ago

China rejects U.S. lawmaker's comments on HK protests, human rights

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

BEIJING (Reuters) - China said it strongly opposes what it calls “erroneous” claims made by Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Eliot Engel, who criticised China’s Communist Party over its position on protests in Hong Kong.

Engel said in a statement on Friday that he was “deeply concerned” by reports of police brutality in Hong Kong and criticised Beijing’s “increasingly harsh responses and propagandic depictions” of the protesters.

China’s Foreign Ministry Office in Hong Kong responded on Sunday with a sharply-worded statement, saying it “urges foreign politicians to stop sending the wrong signals over this violent behaviour”.

“What are the qualifications of American politicians to criticise Hong Kong’s human rights, freedoms and the rule of law?” it said.

It’s the latest in a series of sharp rebukes by China aimed at U.S. and UK politicians who have criticised Hong Kong authorities’ responses to the protests, as well as Beijing’s growing influence in the independently governed city.

The Hong Kong protests, which have surged again in recent days, were initially against an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China, but have since broadened into calls for wider democratic reforms.

Protesters are also seeking independent inquiries into police use of force and are calling for the resignation of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.

China recently said it believes U.S. officials were behind the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and asked the United States to “withdraw their black hands”.

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Sam Holmes

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