A Twitter post from the account of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that said the United States would “stand with the people of Hong Kong” was recently taken down and replaced with a more subdued version.
Blinken’s statement was addressing news on Sept. 15 of how seven democratically elected Hong Kong opposition district councillors were disqualified after their oaths of office were deemed invalid. That determination came after a loyalty test in the form of a vetting and screening mechanism implemented by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that ensures Hong Kong politicians are “patriotic.”
The initial post, shared on Sept. 16, reads, “Beijing should let the voices of all Hong Kongers be heard. The PRC’s disqualification of district councillors only weakens Hong Kong’s long-term political and social stability. We stand with the people of Hong Kong & continue to support their human rights & fundamental freedoms.”
The post was deleted on Sept. 16, and a separate message addressing the same issue appeared on Blinken’s Twitter account on Sept. 17: “The PRC’s disqualification of seven pro-democracy district councillors undermines the ability of people in Hong Kong to participate in their governance. Governments should serve the people they represent. Decreasing representation goes against the spirit of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.”
The PRC’s disqualification of seven pro-democracy district councilors undermines the ability of people in Hong Kong to participate in their governance. Governments should serve the people they represent. Decreasing representation goes against the spirit of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) September 16, 2021
The message, posted at 5:29 p.m. ET, did not express that the United States would “stand with the people of Hong Kong,” and was interpreted by many online as being a more subdued message compared to that in Blinken’s initial Twitter post.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price later shared the same message as Blinken’s initial post with the phrase “We stand with the people of Hong Kong.” It was shared at 6:05 p.m. ET on Sept. 17.
Beijing should let the voices of all Hong Kongers be heard. The PRC’s disqualification of district councilors only weakens Hong Kong’s long-term political and social stability. We stand with the people of Hong Kong & continue to support their human rights & fundamental freedoms.
— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) September 16, 2021
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that Price’s Twitter account had also previously shared the same message on Sept. 16, but deleted it that day. The Epoch Times could not verify the report.
In a statement to Newsweek on Sept. 17, the State Department spokesperson said, “The team that manages the Secretary’s twitter account mistakenly sent the tweet intended to come from the spokesperson. We fixed that error and tweeted from both accounts, speaking out about Hong Kong authorities’ disqualification of pro-democracy district councilors.
“Suggestions that this administrative change was somehow motivated by political concerns is patently untrue. The tweets affirm—in words and in meaning—that the United States stands with the people of Hong Kong. We urge the PRC to allow the people of Hong Kong to meaningfully participate in their governance,” the spokesperson said.
The Epoch Times has reached out to the State Department for further clarification and comment.
Blinken previously used the phrase “We stand with the people of Hong Kong” on Aug. 5. He has also previously repeatedly issued criticisms of the CCP’s actions toward Hong Kong.
The Chinese foreign ministry’s Hong Kong office issued a statement on Sept. 17, condemning “irresponsible comments from certain U.S. politicians” on Hong Kong, reported the SCMP. The statement said that “no U.S. slanders” would deter the CCP from ensuring “patriots administering Hong Kong.”
The statement also accused the seven now-disqualified Hong Kong opposition district councillors of having “smeared the Chinese central government and the HKSAR government, stood on the side of anti-China, destabilizing forces in Hong Kong and interfered in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs as a whole.” HKSAR is the acronym for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl[at]epochtimes.com.