WASHINGTON, July 1 ― US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday expressed Washington's solidarity with the people of Hong Kong as they experience what he called an “erosion of autonomy” under Chinese rule, and called for their personal freedoms to be restored.

“It is now evident that Hong Kong and Beijing authorities no longer view democratic participation, fundamental freedoms, and an independent media” as part of the One Country, Two Systems governance model agreed by Britain and China at the time of the handover in 1997, Blinken said in a statement.

Saying a strict security law imposed in Hong Kong by Beijing in 2020 had led to an “erosion of autonomy,” Blinken added: “We stand in solidarity with people in Hong Kong and reinforce their calls for their promised freedoms to be reinstated.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping today is to preside over somewhat muted celebrations marking the handover of the city from Britain to China, with once annual pro-democracy demonstrations now silenced.

Xi said yesterday that after mass protests in 2019, Hong Kong had been “reborn from the fire and emerged with robust vitality.”

Blinken however said the subsequent implementation of China's strict security law ― including the closure of media outlets and the jailing of opposition figures ― was part of “an effort to deprive Hong Kongers of what they have been promised.” ― AFP