“Our own civic unrest gives us an extraordinary opportunity to tell our story abroad: the American response to events of these past weeks presents a stark contrast to what happens in totalitarian regimes around the world,” he wrote in an email to the State Department workforce.
“We must reject unequivocally the false charges – many of them vile propaganda emanating from China, Iran and other autocracies – questioning America’s credibility in promoting human rights and democracy abroad,” he added.
The Hawaii trip, if finalized, will come in the wake of Beijing’s move to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong with a new national security law. The law will formalize the presence of China’s spy services in Hong Kong, and human rights activists say it will end any semblance of autonomy in the global financial hub. It could also give Beijing the power to move to extradite people from Hong Kong to mainland China––a chilling prospect for many, given the country’s mass internment of Muslim minorities and opaque legal system. Pompeo said last month that the city no longer has meaningful autonomy because of the national security law. That announcement is expected to change Hong Kong’s special economic relationship with the U.S.
China’s state media apparatus responded with fury to Pompeo’s comments on Hong Kong, with the editor of a hawkish tabloid, the Global Times, attacking the secretary as “arrogant” and “hysterical.”