Deputy Secretary of State Nominee: No Invitation Extended to Hong Kong Leader John Lee for APEC

“We made clear to both China and Hong Kong authorities that he would not be welcome in San Francisco, and indeed he would need to be sending a second,"A dispute emerged over whether Hong Kong leader John Lee Ka-chiu was ever given approval to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which ran from Nov. 11 to Nov. 17 in San Francisco.Kurt Campbell, U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state clarified that the U.S. administration did not invite Lee to the APEC forum.“We made clear to both China and Hong Kong authorities that he would not be welcome in San Francisco, and indeed he would need to be sending a second, which he did,” he told the confirmation hearing on Dec. 7.“We never intended for him to participate.”Despite several congress members’ previous questioning, Mr. Campbell, who currently serves as the Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs on the National Security Council, did not give a direct answer until last week.However, the Hong Kong authorities stated that John Lee had received a U.S. invitation to attend the APEC summit, yet Lee did not attend due to scheduling conflicts.On Oct. 31, the Hong Kong authorities announced that “Hong Kong, China, had received the customary invitation from the host” to attend the summit, but Lee could not attend in person due to scheduling issues and designated the Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po, to attend on his behalf.Related StoriesOn Nov. 1, the Hong Kong authorities issued another statement, saying that John Lee had personally received an invitation from the United States. Widespread Opposition to John Lee Attending APEC Lee, who was sanctioned by the United States in 2020 for human rights violations and undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy, faced widespread opposition to attending the APEC Economic Leaders’ Informal Dialogue in November.Lee was sanctioned in 2020 because of his role in implementing a draconian national law security law when he was Hong Kong’s security secretary. In designating Mr. Lee, the Department of Treasury said he was engaged in “coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals under the authority of the national security law.”In June, four bipartisan U.S. Congress members wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, criticizing the Hong Kong government’s violent suppression of peaceful protesters in 2019, arguing that inviting Lee to the summit would send a terrible message to global human rights violators.In July, over 50 groups, including the Hong Kong Democracy Council, Hong Kong Watch, other overseas Hong Kong groups, the Uyghur community, and the Tibetan community, jointly signed an open letter, urging the U.S. government for a prompt and clear stance against allowing Lee to attend the APEC summit.In November, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chairman of the House China Committee, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a senior member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asking him to clarify whether his agency had extended an invitation to Hong Kong’s top official, John Lee, who is under U.S. sanctions.In their letter, the two lawmakers argued that Mr. Chan’s attendance at the APEC summit “is in and of itself problematic,” arguing that not a single secretary of state since 2020 “has certified that Hong Kong enjoys this autonomy.”“Inviting any Hong Kong official to APEC would be tantamount to recognizing Hong Kong as a separate economy from the PRC, when in fact, and according to U.S. law, it is not,” the letter reads. “We urge you to immediately rescind your invitation to Secretary Chan; otherwise, the PRC will receive disproportionate representation at the summit.”Frank Fang contributed to this report.

Deputy Secretary of State Nominee: No Invitation Extended to Hong Kong Leader John Lee for APEC

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“We made clear to both China and Hong Kong authorities that he would not be welcome in San Francisco, and indeed he would need to be sending a second,"

A dispute emerged over whether Hong Kong leader John Lee Ka-chiu was ever given approval to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which ran from Nov. 11 to Nov. 17 in San Francisco.

Kurt Campbell, U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee for deputy secretary of state clarified that the U.S. administration did not invite Lee to the APEC forum.

“We made clear to both China and Hong Kong authorities that he would not be welcome in San Francisco, and indeed he would need to be sending a second, which he did,” he told the confirmation hearing on Dec. 7.“We never intended for him to participate.”

Despite several congress members’ previous questioning, Mr. Campbell, who currently serves as the Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs on the National Security Council, did not give a direct answer until last week.

However, the Hong Kong authorities stated that John Lee had received a U.S. invitation to attend the APEC summit, yet Lee did not attend due to scheduling conflicts.

On Oct. 31, the Hong Kong authorities announced that “Hong Kong, China, had received the customary invitation from the host” to attend the summit, but Lee could not attend in person due to scheduling issues and designated the Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po, to attend on his behalf.

On Nov. 1, the Hong Kong authorities issued another statement, saying that John Lee had personally received an invitation from the United States.
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Widespread Opposition to John Lee Attending APEC

Lee, who was sanctioned by the United States in 2020 for human rights violations and undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy, faced widespread opposition to attending the APEC Economic Leaders’ Informal Dialogue in November.
Lee was sanctioned in 2020 because of his role in implementing a draconian national law security law when he was Hong Kong’s security secretary. In designating Mr. Lee, the Department of Treasury said he was engaged in “coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals under the authority of the national security law.”

In June, four bipartisan U.S. Congress members wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, criticizing the Hong Kong government’s violent suppression of peaceful protesters in 2019, arguing that inviting Lee to the summit would send a terrible message to global human rights violators.

In July, over 50 groups, including the Hong Kong Democracy Council, Hong Kong Watch, other overseas Hong Kong groups, the Uyghur community, and the Tibetan community, jointly signed an open letter, urging the U.S. government for a prompt and clear stance against allowing Lee to attend the APEC summit.

In November, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chairman of the House China Committee, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a senior member of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asking him to clarify whether his agency had extended an invitation to Hong Kong’s top official, John Lee, who is under U.S. sanctions.

In their letter, the two lawmakers argued that Mr. Chan’s attendance at the APEC summit “is in and of itself problematic,” arguing that not a single secretary of state since 2020 “has certified that Hong Kong enjoys this autonomy.”

“Inviting any Hong Kong official to APEC would be tantamount to recognizing Hong Kong as a separate economy from the PRC, when in fact, and according to U.S. law, it is not,” the letter reads. “We urge you to immediately rescind your invitation to Secretary Chan; otherwise, the PRC will receive disproportionate representation at the summit.”

Frank Fang contributed to this report.