May 28, 2020 / 1:32 AM / 2 months ago

U.S. and China fight at United Nations over Hong Kong

FILE PHOTO: Chinese and U.S. flags flutter near The Bund in Shanghai, China July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States and China clashed over Hong Kong at the United Nations on Wednesday after Beijing opposed a request by Washington for the Security Council to meet over China’s plan to impose new national security legislation on the territory.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations said in a statement that the issue was “a matter of urgent global concern ​that implicates international peace and security” and therefore warranted the immediate attention of the 15-member council.

China “categorically rejects the baseless request” because the national security legislation for Hong Kong was an internal matter and “has nothing to do with the mandate of the Security Council,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun posted on Twitter.

The U.S. request coincides with rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus pandemic. Washington has questioned China’s transparency about the outbreak, which first emerged in Wuhan, China late last year. China has said it was transparent about the virus.

The U.S. said China’s opposition to a Security Council meeting on Hong Kong coupled with its “gross cover-up and mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis, its constant violations of its international human rights commitments, and its unlawful behavior in the South China Sea, should make obvious to all that Beijing is not behaving as a responsible U.N. member state.”

Zhang responded: “Facts prove again and again that the U.S. is the trouble maker of the world. It is the U.S. who has violated its commitments under the international law. China urges the U.S. to immediately stop its power politics and bullying practices.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress on Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer qualifies for its special status under U.S. law because China had undermined its autonomy, potentially dealing a crushing blow to the territory’s status as a major financial hub.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool

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