Kurt Tong rejects apology call, backs open debate - RTHK
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Kurt Tong rejects apology call, backs open debate

2019-03-04 HKT 12:28
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  • Kurt Tong rejects apology call, backs open debate
Altis Wong reports
The US Consul General in Hong Kong, Kurt Tong, said on Monday that he is not going to apologise for comments he made about the SAR, despite criticism from Beijing, saying an open debate about the situation is for the good of everyone.

"I think people need to step back and take a deep breath, put things into context and realise that open conversation is good for everybody," the envoy said.

The consul had come under fire over a speech last week where he warned that Beijing's tightening grip in Hong Kong will affect the city's key role as an international business centre. He cited the banning of the Hong Kong National Party, the disqualification of would-be election candidates and the expulsion of British journalist Victor Mallet as events that raised concerns in the US.

Speaking to the media on Monday on the sidelines of a business meeting, Tong said he has no plans to heed the calls of some pro-Beijing politicians to apologise.

"I think they probably haven't read the speech. I'm not going to apologise for saying Hong Kong is a great place to do business or Hong Kong is a wonderful city. I think people need to step back and take a deep breath, put things into context and realise that open conversation is good for everybody," he said.

He said he had outlined a few of the risks associated with "One Country, Two Systems", and hoped this would help stimulate an open conversation.

Tong said the speech has been uploaded to the consulate's website, and he urged people to read it in its totality.

"It's my job to represent the United States and explain and provide feedback and help stimulate open conversation, transparent conservation about the situation in Hong Kong, so that everyone can be involved in the conversation and think about the best way forward for the city," he said.

"The United States has a big presence here. We have a big stake in Hong Kong. We want it to be a very successful place. We want 'One Country, Two Systems' to be a very successful model as it has been in the past," he said.